Knuckle Puck - While I Stay Secluded [EP] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Knuckle Puck

While I Stay Secluded [EP] (2014)

Bad Timing Records

In terms of edgy and pacey pop-punk (and more so, pop-punk done right), Knuckle Puck are quickly carving out quite a name for themselves. After showing their potential on a split earlier this year with Neck Deep, While I Stay Secluded is THE EP to reassure fans just how much this Chicago quintet is living up to said potential. In just six songs, you get a snapshot of this promise plus a hint of greater things to come. There's a raw energy in their melodic hooks and catchy disposition that definitely sees them earmarked for something big, soon.

Theirs is a dirty take on pop-punk - sharper and very aggressive. They harbour a sound that feels like a cross-breed of Somos and Oso Oso (formerly State Lines and osoosooso). "Oak Street" and "Alexander PI" distinguish themselves in this vein and also, as coming of age jams. Joe Taylor's voice is so angry and raspy yet suits his lyrical outlet quite fittingly. He jibes on life, growing up and of course, overcoming heartache. Nothing too deep but still, his words in their catchy rhythms hit home hard. This is helped on by the ferocious kitwork of John Siorek whose percussion drives on Kevin Maida and Nick Casasanto's guitars. Slick, cutting and very dynamically I might add. Nods back to the grittier stuff from Stickup Kid!

Knuckle Puck smartly dive in and out of the alt/emo/indie punk ponds as they ghost from track to track shouting about escapism and such. The bouncy nature and up-tempo tracks like "In My Room" and "Bedford Falls" also help cultivate a well-balanced act that plies its trade on some very emotional lyrics later on to close the session off. Sure, Knuckle Puck share common ground with quite a few pop-punkers these days and while parallels are drawn to these acts, it's a safe bet to say they have what it takes to sneak ahead of the curve.

While a couple tracks feel a tad generic, this EP (mostly) comes off as a great statement for a band that's cemented their footing even stronger in a genre where it's easy to fade in and out of consciousness. Knuckle Puck, however, doesn't feel like that passer-by. They're here to make waves, not ripples and While I Stay Secluded is a foray up the right alley.