If I could rate Knapsack as a band rather than their individual albums they would surely be in my top tier. Each one of their full-lengths is an album you find yourself liking. Yeah, that’s it, just liking
, at first. Well, this is me, at least. Until one sunny afternoon or some bullshi
t like that, you realize you’ve played This Conversation Is Ending Right Now
to death, an infinite amount of times and it feels even fuc
king fresher, more memorable and distinct than when you first laid ears on it a year ago. Blair Shehan’s gritty vocals are so utterly grimy and imperfect, but you don’t go long without singing along to “Decorate the Spine” or something, it just doesn’t happen. This is Knapsack as a band though, we haven’t even gotten as far as Day Three of My New Life
yet, thanks to my fittingly lackadaisical reviewing.
First though, it’d be helpful to gain a better grasp on the band. Remember the days of early 90’s emocore... of Rites of Spring, Embrace, Other Obvious Namedrop, those bands? Me neither, but we wish we did, don’t we? Anyway, Knapsack is a sad representative of the bastard spawn of that era. One of the many, I might add. Before pussy shi
t like American Football and after pussy shi
t like The Get Up Kids became the norm for the genre, Knapsack was balancing on the thin line, maintaining the invigorating energy of emo while incorporating the friendlier, indie aesthetic of more digestible influences. They weren’t alone by a long shot-- Texas Is The Reason, Mineral, Braid, Christie Front Drive, and a million other bands were doing more or less the exact same thing next door. Thing was, Knapsack basically perfected it. They might not be sharing the limelight with aforementioned bands, but Knapsack’s music was a lot more fun than said bands, anyway: louder than Texas Is The Reason, catchier than Mineral, more fun than Braid. Chugging guitars, equally emotional and nonsensical song names and lyrics, and a vocalist you weren’t sure whether to bow down to or just shake your head in pity at (either way, it’s memorable), Knapsack defined the middle ground stuck between catharsis and catchiness. They were
the late 90’s bastard of earlier emo bands.
And yet, Day Three of My New Life
is a disappointment in ways. It’s like Knapsack only had a set amount of dynamism for their record, and chose to spend it all on the first four songs only instead of divvying it up. Fu
ck, I don’t blame them. If the dull, monotony of “Henry Hammers Harder” and “Boxing Gloves” is the sacrifice for the orgasmic perfection of “Thursday Side of the Street,” you’ve got yourself a deal, Shehan and company. The liveliness of each throat-groggling, bright, anthem that graces the beginning of Day Three of My New Life
is enough is enough to warrant as many duds as they’d like further on. Well, not really, but it’s difficult not to think so at times. Forgive Knapsack for their flaws on their second full-length... for making one of the most unbalanced records ever, for losing their early, abundant energy, and for inevitably causing you to lose your voice the day before your philosophy presentation (uncontrollably singing along to “Thursday Side Of The Street” and scorching your throat, of course). Cut ‘em a break. They haven’t quite reached their consistent potential of This Conversation
, but they’re showcasing some of their best here. Or, you could just listen to the first four songs off of Day Three of My New Life
, remember that Knapsack are a genre-defining little group from California, and scream your lungs out to
”He says, thanks for coming home,
If not for the bar i'd spend my life aloooone,”
Not sure why, I just love that line. Most of them, for that matter.