Sometimes you just need to take a decade off.
Nearly 10 years since the release of the omnipotent The Unquotable A.M.H., Shook Ones are back. The Bellingham, WA punk quintet surprised audiences when they announced they’d release a full-length in Q4 of 2018 after a long slumber. Well, sort of; the band played occasional shows, guested on a few podcasts contributed to a few philanthropic causes, and kept busy with other projects since that album’s release. Sometimes life steps in, but make no mistake, they’ve been busy.
That might be why the product of Shook Ones’ absence from the limelight, Body Feel, which is being released through the fabled Revelation Records, is so great: It’s an amalgamation of all of the twists and turns life throws at you in your 20s and 30s packaged in a polished version of Shook Ones’ catchy pop punk formula. In short, if you’re looking for Lifetime, Kid Dynamite, and Hot Water Music worship, it’s still here, but evolved. And, similar to previous releases, the quintet keeps it succinct at 11 tracks in roughly half an hour.
They waste no time, either; opener “Night Blind” has all the makings of a surefire four-chord pop-punk anthem, with driving guitar downstrokes, pummeling drums and a huge hook to tie it all together. Closer “Daytime Television” follows the same formula—concluding the band’s charade in a similar fashion.
These two songs are not unlike some of the group’s best known cuts, such as The Unquotable A.M.H.’s “For Collards” or Facetious Folly Feat’s “So Grown Up": Infectious, dynamic andIt’s what happens in between those straightforward selections that makes Shook Ones’ return a glorious one. Rather than presenting another iteration of the same bare-bones, quick, melodic punk for which they’re known, the dudes from the Pacific Northwest decided to take some musical gambles in their fourth full-length.
This time, they’ve experimented with gritty bass-driven melodies (“So Much Camo”) syncopated, twangy guitar riffs (“Turn Off the Stove Already”) and dense song structures (“Should He Be Driving”). The latter best exemplifies the aforementioned gambles; in four minutes the quintet chaperones listeners through the perils of touring via brisk punk and syncopated swagger before it culminates into a massive build-up and singalong. “We have stayed through hollow guarantees and now the road back home is blocked with snow; hadn’t known,” singer Scott Freeman sings amid a crashing climax. It’s one of Body Feel’s obvious highlights and could, quite possibly, be a shining moment in the band’s legacy.
With Body Feel, Shook Ones not only provided an output that will definitely satiate seasoned listeners who’ve been eagerly anticipating new material, it’s a glorious “comeback” record that’s got all the makings of a bona fide classic. Compared to the rest of their discography, the excellent Body Feel sticks out in that its intentions and context are different. It’s an album not unlike some of the punk rock genre’s most heralded comebacks —think Green Day’s American Idiot, The Damned’s Machine Gun Etiquette, and Jawbreaker’s Dear You. It’s almost as if the quintet aimed for reinvention—whether they’re cognizant of that is unknown, but they managed to pull it off swimmingly. In this case, taking a “break” was entirely worth it.
Body Feel is out Oct. 19 via Revelation Records and can be ordered directly from the label.
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