Knuckle Puck Confronts the State of the World on New Album ‘Losing What We Love’

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Chicago-based pop punk legends Knuckle Puck (Joe Taylor, Nick Casasanto, Kevin Maida, John Siorek, and Ryan Rumchaks) released their fourth LP, Losing What We Love, via Pure Noise Records last Friday. Fans have been eagerly awaiting this moment for the past 3 years, and Knuckle Puck doesn’t disappoint. 

Over the band’s 13-year career, their music has been emotional but optimistic, always with a note of positivity. On this album, though, Knuckle Puck gives us a raw and refreshing dose of honesty with their lyrics. Guitarist and vocalist Nick Casasanto explains further:

“For a long time, we felt a responsibility to have this overwhelming hopefulness to our lyrics. This time around, we started writing more honestly with less intent to sound cool or hopeful. It feels like we’re in a bit of a losing battle with the state of the world, but in the past we’d say, ‘Oh, but it’s all OK!’ Now we’re saying, ‘No, we should be panicking.”

With this songwriting style and a more collaborative in-studio effort than ever before, Losing What We Love was born. The nature of the making of this album and the tight bond between the band members themselves is evident throughout, setting Knuckle Puck apart in modern pop punk.

The album starts off with the aptly named “A New Beginning”. Serving as the perfect opener, the track contains a new but somewhat familiar energy reminiscent of that present on their first album, Copacetic. Catchy enough to draw listeners in and just heavy enough to bring back fans of old Knuckle Puck, this track does a great job of setting the scene.

The following “The Tower” is arguably one of the strongest tracks on the album. Confronting the inevitability of death and destruction, this song showcases a darker side of the band. With a persistent drum and a heavy guitar, “The Tower” opens with the hopeless lyrics “save yourself cause no one’s got your back the way they claim”. Joe Taylor’s harsh delivery of the chorus really drives the message home and adds that kick of passion that will pierce listeners right in the heart. The use of distorted vocals in a chaotic feedback-filled bridge backs up the emotion behind the track.

“October” confronts the weight of indecision as you grow older. A punchy guitar rhythm drives this one along while the relatability and angst of the lyrics will hit listeners square in the face. The following “You & I” takes a swing at fake, manipulative, and shallow people. A poppy guitar carries the song through as the band tells us they can see through those masks. To celebrate the release of the album, they also released a fun and punchy music video to go along with this track.

The title track “Losing What We Love” is perhaps one of the deepest and most introspective songs on the album. It immediately poses the question: “Who do we become when we lose what we love?” Vocalist Joe Taylor softly sings the intro before we’re plunged into a classic pop punk breakdown. This track will be a treat to hear live, especially as it enters the second verse. The changes in tempo keep the listener on their toes while the message of the song is universal. The lyrics themselves may be dark, but instead of weighing the song down, they actually lift it up and encourage the expression of these difficult emotions. Finally, Knuckle Puck shows off their love of layering both vocal and instrumental elements for a beautiful and reflective outro. 

“Groundhog Day” picks the energy back up. A fan favorite since its release in 2022, this song’s musical contrasts keep fans on their toes. The chorus is the calmest part, with the heavier breakdowns and solos coming with the verses and just before the bridge. The transition between these two energies throughout is exhilarating. The guitar under the lyrics in the last minute takes center stage, elevating this song to even higher heights. 

“Act Accordingly” is the feistiest track on the album, with a fast-paced drum throughout. The second verse is full of passionate, desperate vocals and in-your-face lyrics. The urgency of the message is backed up by some of the harshest vocals we’ve heard from Taylor as of yet. This album has been pretty raw so far, but this song takes it to a whole other level.

Slowing things down again, one of the poppiest songs on the album is “Out of Touch”. Some electronic elements of distortion on Taylor’s vocals provide a healthy dose of experimentation from the band. This melancholy track confronts losing touch with someone you once loved and comes to the mature conclusion that sometimes, to love means to move on. “Worlds Apart” follows in a similar vein with a little extra kick. 

“Better Late” draws us closer to the end with a catchy, upbeat guitar and a driving drum beat. The track encourages the listener to speak up and acknowledges that every situation has two sides. We revisit the title of the album with the lyric “I’m losing what I love” in the bridge. The use of gang vocals near the end drives this one home, giving the song an overwhelmingly encouraging and communal vibe.

The album closes with “Fool”, slowing things down again. This may seem like a bold choice, but it’s so expertly done that it feels natural. Instead of jamming another fast-paced banger into us right at the end, the band uses this track as an opportunity to neatly pack things up and ask the listener to reflect on everything they’ve just listened to. This type of song is rarely heard from Knuckle Puck, with soft, calm vocals over a melancholy, mid-tempo guitar. It continues in this way until the last chorus, when the vocals pick up some passion and the music reaches a climax. These elements blend seamlessly to create a cinematic end to the album, incorporating harmonies, static, brilliant instrumentals, and impassioned vocals.

Dare we say, “Losing What We Love” is Knuckle Puck’s best album yet. Confident and cohesive, it contains their most mature musical progression and their most honest lyrics to date. It can be hard for pop punk bands to grow and evolve in a natural way without giving up their core sound, but that is exactly what Knuckle Puck has achieved here. They’ve brought back some of the angst and energy from their beloved first album, Copacetic, while continuing to push themselves in a new direction.

The guitars consistently shine on each and every track, adding complexity and elevating the entire album to new standards. The precise drums drive the album forward even through complicated transitions, while vocal excellence and experimentation push it over the edge. Check out the album here.

Itching to see these songs played live? We are, too. Lucky for us, Knuckle Puck is embarking on a co-headlining tour of North America with Real Friends starting next month.

Credit: Andy Eclov

TOUR DATES
Thu Nov 9 – Cleveland, OH – Roxy
Fri Nov 10 – Detroit, MI – St Andrews
Sat Nov 11 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues
Tue Nov 14 – Milwaukee, WI – The Rave
Wed Nov 15 – Columbia, MO – Blue Note
Thu Nov 16 – Witchita, KS – The Wave
Fri Nov 17 – Denver, CO – Summit
Sun Nov 19 – Boise, ID – Knitting Factory Boise
Mon Nov 20 – Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory Spokane
Tue Nov 21 – Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw
Fri Nov 24 – Sacramento, CA – Goldfield Roseville
Sat Nov 25 – Riverside, CA – Riversice Municapal
Sun Nov 26 – Los Angeles, CA – Regent
Mon Nov 27 – Tuscon, AZ – Rialto
Wed Nov 29 – Dallas, TX – Studio
Thu Nov 30 – Houston, TX – White Oak
Sat Dec 2 – West Palm Beach, FL – Revolution
Sun Dec 3 – Orlando, FL – Level 13
Mon Dec 4 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade
Tue Dec 5 – Raleigh, NC – Lincoln
Thu Dec 7 – Baltimore, MD – Soundstage
Fri Dec 8 – Philadelphia, PA – TLA
Sat Dec 9 – New York, NY – Irving Plaza
Sun Dec 10 – Boston, MA – BNL
Tue Dec 12 – Harrisburg, PA – HMAC
Wed Dec 13 – Toronto, ON – Opera
Thu Dec 14 – Pittsburgh, PA – Mr Smalls
Fri Dec 15 – Buffalo, NY – Town Ballroom

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