Knuckle Puck – ‘Disposable Life’

By Sean Reid

Throughout their 10+ years together, Knuckle Puck have consistently carved an emotional brand of pop-punk. While 2020’s suitably titled ’20/20’ record somewhat stepped away from that, allowing the quintet to be at their most upbeat, overall, it centred on an uplifting and looser songwriting approach. Now, as the Chicago band return with ‘Disposable Life’, they continue with that momentum while simultaneously celebrating their past.

From the outset, ‘Gasoline’ bursts with familiarity, incorporating shining harmonies as Joe Taylor and guitarist Nick Casasanto exchange vocals. With an undercurrent of driving instrumentation, the opening track is the sound of a revitalised Knuckle Puck.

Previous single ‘Levitate’ follows in a similar fashion; fast-paced drums segue into sharp and soaring guitars along with vibrant melodies. Like it or not, Knuckle Puck are a band that have rarely strayed far from their pop-punk roots and the four new cuts emphasise that.

The punchy ‘Lonely Island’ is radiant with Taylor shining in the vocal department as Casasanto, wiry guitarist Kevin Maida, drummer John Siorek, and bassist Ryan Rumchaks provide a sturdy but fun musical foundation. The equally anthemic ‘In The Bag’ is the final of the four original tracks here wherein Taylor’s vocals show a hint of angst in the verses, yet sounds resolute and positive once the chorus hints: “The sound won’t drown me out, but it’s got me smiling”.

The EP ends with a cover of Blink-182’s ‘Here’s Your Letter’ and while it could have easily been a straight-up copy and paste cover, Knuckle Puck have left their own stamp on the song. In comparison to the original, Knuckle Puck’s approach provides a fuller sound with an extra shot of energy for good measure. It doesn’t sound tacked on to the EP and adds to its consistency.

Although some will see ‘Disposable Life’ as Knuckle Puck stagnating, or even regressing, longtime fans will instantly enjoy these five tracks. Threaded together by an admirable level of consistency, Knuckle Puck have served up a digestible reminder of their pop-punk prowess. Underpinned by a hint of nostalgia, ‘Disposable Life’ neatly bridges the gap between Knuckle Puck’s past and present. With renewed energy, the Chi-town collective have made the first step towards an exciting new era for themselves.

SÊAN REID

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