After a successful, jam-packed sophomore album in 2017, fans were dying to hear what Knuckle Puck’s 2020 vision of music was. Ironic or not “20/20” keeps Knuckle Puck rooted in their ways with only a few shifts here and there. So, let’s dive into the album to see if all the hype was worth the wait. As one listens to the record from front to back, they know one thing immediately- this is another Knuckle Puck album. Now, this isn’t a bad thing. The band has found their mold in terms of instrumentation and vocals, and they plan on retaining that as they move forward- there’s nothing wrong with that. This includes instrumentals that rock with the root of pop punk instrumentals in mind. Some of the time, the instrumentals are digging in to provide over the top moments that heighten the overall track, other parts, in terms of instrumentation, either lie in supporting the melodic/lyrical line, or providing small little passages that are catchy and act as an ornamental sound to the overall soundscape. This provides the band with a nice sense of familiarity in terms of sound while also giving themselves a lot of room to experiment both instrumentally and vocally. When looking towards the melodic lines, It is easily said that the band doesn’t provide anything that hasn’t been done before- and that’s leaning towards both lyrics and familiar melodic lines. As one listens to the record, it becomes hard to swallow at times because it feels so déjà vu, but not necessarily in the good way. The lyrics talk about familiar, emotional viewpoints that are major in the pop punk scene. And before, Knuckle Puck was known for spinning these themes in witty ways that make you want to scream at the top of your lungs at a concert. When listening to this make- that feeling is lost. The lyrics are well-written and well thought out, but they feel overdone in both approach and style. Overall, I am giving this album a 3.5 out of 5 stars. This record receives such a score because in terms of instrumentals, the band is kicking, rocking, and rolling better than ever, but the repetitive, overdone lyrics halt this experience for me.
“Into the Blue”, “What Took You So Long?”, and “RSVP”
When listening to the record from front to back, these are the tracks that stick in the minds of the listener, for I believe they retain that raw edge that pop punk instrumentals drive on. Having this acts as such a strong foundation, at least in terms of instrumentation. When moving to the lyrics, although these selections heavily waver towards the new approach that Knuckle Puck is driving throughout this release, there are moments that place listeners back to the beginning days of the band, which is what makes these the standout moments.
When first looking at the album artwork, it can easily be said that this is an evolution of the previous covers Knuckle Puck has utilized for their music. Each Knuckle Puck cover has provided this aura and visual experience for viewers with its abstract but simple nature to it- this cover is no different. This provides a strong start for the band, but let’s see how the music sizes up with the art. When listening to the record, there is a clear connection between the image on the cover with the lyrics that fall on the inside. Like the majority of pop punk records, this album speaks about emotions, reflecting, hindsight, pain, loss, etc. Twisting that to meet its mate- the cover art, the cover art provides a person holding a mirror mirroring itself. This may seem a bit confusing when putting it into words, but as one dives into the different emotional pits that the band provides, it would make sense why this intricate image would be utilized to show the potential internal feelings that a person may feel when enduring such events. I would say that the cover art provides a strong front for the band, and the tunes connect to it nicely. If the substance of the music was heightened, this combination could’ve been unstoppable.
*”20/20” was released on September 18th, 2020 through Rise Records.