Knuckle Puck
Losing What We Love


3.5
great

Review

by jesper STAFF
October 20th, 2023 | 24 replies


Release Date: 10/20/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: a thesis on mid-2010s pop punk in the mid-2020s // this album is pretty good

The year is 2023. You have stumbled across a Knuckle Puck review on Sputnikmusic. If you choose to continue reading, you are about to consume an in-depth analysis of the state of whiny sadboi pop punk. In 2023. Proceed with caution.

Alright, cool, now that all self-respecting individuals have left the room (jk, kinda), let’s dive into Knuckle Puck, and, while we’re at it, their position in the landscape of mid-2010s pop punk (in the mid-2020s). Most strikingly, it feels like Knuckle Puck have been perpetual victims of their circumstances and, ultimately, themselves. On the one hand, the band managed to carve out a niche for themselves with the release of the excellent While I Stay Secluded EP and subsequent Copacetic LP in 2014 and 2015 respectively: thoughtful, expansive and somewhat awkwardly “intellectual” pop punk (read: big words in lyrics). On the other hand, their close ties to contemporaries like Seaway, Neck Deep and State Champs forced them into a corner of the world’s most loved genre more focused on fun and energy rather than the pensive gloom Knuckle Puck excelled at. As such, formlessly generic cuts like “Stationary” would follow the genuinely forward-thinking textures of “True Contrite” on Copacetic’s track listing, putting the band’s strengths and weaknesses on full display at all times.

This feeling that Knuckle Puck would never be able to fully commit to their excellence only strengthened with the subsequent Shapeshifter; an album that, in spite of its palpable ambition, put forth subpar and unmemorable songs like “Twist” as well as gorgeously explosive SOTY-material a la “Wait”. In the meantime, however, the landscape of mainstream pop punk was quietly moving on - The Story So Far started exploring more spaced out, calm textures; Boston Manor dove headfirst into gloomy alt rock; hell, even Neck Deep scored two of their biggest hits with the relatively slow and pensive “In Bloom” and “Wish You Were Here”. It’s a collective shift that should have been a golden opportunity for Knuckle Puck to finally properly embrace their contemplative sensibilities. Unfortunately, 2020’s immaculately titled 20/20 did the exact opposite and became the band’s fun album - approximately half a decade after all the fun was over. While still being a solid offering, things weren’t looking good…

…for Knuckle Puck and mainstream pop punk in general. Save for The Wonder Years, as the 2020s hit, most of the main players of their era either disappeared with or without notice, or decided to put out pop punk music not even pop punk fans could stomach. Where to next? Most of Knuckle Puck are in their 30s now, and I guess not every band can make an After the Party, so we’re left with Losing What We Love - their first full length in well over three years. In a way, it’s another disappointment by a band that should be so much better, while also embodying the most consistent thing they have put out in nine years (or: their most consistent album ever). For the first time ever, it’s hard to position a new Knuckle Puck album in the wider context of their scene - perhaps because that scene is fractured and fragmented beyond recognition. This might just be a good thing: for the first time ever, it’s also hard to feel like the band have any circumstances to fall victim to. Instead, they’re merely falling victim to themselves.

As a whole, Losing What We Love is the darkest Knuckle Puck have ever sounded, while still being a pop punk record through and through. There’s moments where this darkness bleeds into intensity and yields excellent results: “The Tower” is a massive cut, marrying simplistic yet effective riffs with a beautifully violent chorus. Similarly, “Act Accordingly” transforms standard pop punk rhythms into a seriously pissed off anthem, exploring textures left untouched since Shapeshifter’s “Everyone Lies to Me”. However, this darkness isn’t restricted to the heavier moments. The production throughout Losing What We Love is excellent, highlighting each instrument where necessary while allowing plenty of space for songs to unfold. “Groundhog Day”, one of the record’s strongest cuts, uses its entire back half to transform minimal lyrics and a mesmerising guitar solo into a unique and dynamic conclusion that complements the album’s atmosphere as much as it constructs one itself. Elsewhere, closer “Fool” commits to a mid-tempo rocker and pulls it off with conviction, allowing its contemplations to reflect all that came before. When such magnificent unfolding takes place, it’s hard to grasp why the band would ever record another generic pop punk track.

Yet, it seems Knuckle Puck are committed to their pop punk bangers (lowercase b). While Losing What We Love does not contain the valleys of previous records, there are several (too many) songs that feel sort of pointless, like filler with the sole purpose of contrasting the better cuts and highlighting how damn good they are. This absolutely works on a song-to-song level, but hardly makes for an excellent album. While the appealing production and consistently decent songwriting help construct a cohesive experience, moments like “You & I” and “Worlds Apart” are little more than forgettably okay songs. Perhaps this is just who and what Knuckle Puck are. Perhaps they’re as big on the intricate beauty of the title track’s outro as they are on trite pop punk-isms from yesterdecade. Perhaps I won’t ever really understand that.

Above all, perhaps I want Knuckle Puck to be more than they are. They were a right-time-right-place-right-age band for me as Copacetic’s accessibly pretentious leanings perfectly fit with my sixteen year-old self’s depression-riddled evenings. Perhaps I’m just desperate to prove the cynical “lol, pop punk” part of myself wrong - and maybe, just maybe, the excellent moments spread throughout Losing What We Love can silence that little voice for a while. At the same time, while Knuckle Puck remain a tale of untapped potential, I remain hopeful that the next record will accomplish what the band seemingly set out to do all those years ago - even if the lyrical content of cuts like “Out of Touch” and “A New Beginning” don’t exactly hint at a (bright) future for them. For what it’s worth, I’m out of touch too. Any person willing to dedicate time to mid-2010s pop punk in the mid-2020s is, and that’s okay.




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user ratings (37)
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
JesperL
Staff Reviewer
October 20th 2023


5362 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

longest review in ages and it's for this lol anyway

someone
October 20th 2023


6323 Comments


woohoo a Jesper longie is a day well started

SlothcoreSam
October 20th 2023


6131 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Album was OK, but not as good as new Free Throw and not even close to the level of the new Sincere Engineer. They are the Pop Punk standouts the past month.



Nice review though

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
October 20th 2023


59481 Comments


y e s jesper, keep writing about sad dad genres plz

Mort.
October 20th 2023


24848 Comments


didnt this band get salty because a youtuber took the piss out of them

Manatea
Contributing Reviewer
October 20th 2023


1859 Comments


Once more, Jesper spits the truth.
This album is better than it deserves to be lol

Feather
October 20th 2023


9870 Comments


I guess I should check out Sincere Engineer. If this is worse than Free Throw (which I thought was just fine), I am not interested in this.

Nice fun review. Love TWY shout out in there as well.

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
October 20th 2023


9752 Comments


good word pleasant longie

JayEnder
October 20th 2023


19150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"didnt this band get salty because a youtuber took the piss out of them"



That ended up being a huge misunderstanding and they apologized to Jarrod Alonge. Pretty sure they even made Kanookle Pook shirts lol



Purpl3Spartan
October 20th 2023


8173 Comments


Everchanger is that you?

JayEnder
October 20th 2023


19150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

As far as the album, the first two songs set the bar sky high and the rest couldn't quite reach those heights.



The t/t and Act Accordingly are awesome too, rest is just your typical solid KP fare.

JesperL
Staff Reviewer
October 20th 2023


5362 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thanks guys ❤️

agreed that the new sincere engineer is top tier pop punk!! every1 check it

JayEnder
October 20th 2023


19150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

THIS BAD LUCK KEEPS CHASING ME

JesperL
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2023


5362 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ok u know what the music video has sold me on you & i

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h62vHfHFUtU

iHaveSex
October 21st 2023


190 Comments


“Plagiarism is no laughing matter says band named after movie reference.”

grandbazaar
October 23rd 2023


144 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I know this is going to be contentious, but best LP this band has ever done.

JayEnder
October 23rd 2023


19150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I still think Copacetic is far and away their best but this is good for sure

Atari
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2023


27902 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Man these guys write some banger choruses

JesperL
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2023


5362 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

THERE IS NO ESCAPE

joshieboy
October 27th 2023


8242 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh hell yeah, didn't even realise they'd put a new one out. I actually really liked 20/20, this reads like this is better which is sick. Also, a brilliant review, good shit



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