ALBUM REVIEW – “Die Knowing” by Comeback Kid

Accessibility has never been a well-known trait of hardcore punk, but a handful of bands do pack enough hooks into their melée of sound to represent an entry point into the genre for the uninitiated. Comeback Kid have never sounded anything less than venomous, but they’re not scared of a good melody either. With zero frills and instant thrills the band’s stock in trade, excitement has never been a difficult thing for them to muster, even if forays into more experimental territory have seen them stumble somewhat in the past.

Fans of the band’s heavier earlier material will rejoice in knowing that Die Knowing puts an overt focus on the more aggressive side of Comeback Kid. The opening staccato build-up of the title track builds the tension, but it’s not until incendiary third song ‘Wasted Arrows’ that the catapult releases in a galloping rush. The juxtaposition between breakneck punk and fat, chunky grooves is balanced pretty much just right, ‘Losing Sleep’ the best example of the latter.

Elsewhere the record does move towards the ‘pop’ end of the punk spectrum, though rarely to the point that it’s grating. The “woah-oahs” of single ‘Should No Better’ succeed in adding fun to the song rather than cheese, while the barbed melodies of the steadily uncoiling ‘Unconditional’ form some of the best songwriting Comeback Kid have done to date. The “scream-sing” vocal style employed by Andrew Neufeld may not be to all tastes, but it well fits the coarse flavour the music generates.

Occasionally Die Knowing does overstep into saccharine waters, such moments jarring in contrast to the rest of the album. ‘Beyond’ brings back the “woah-ohs” but this time sounding somewhat silly, while closer ‘Sink In’ slips worryingly far into New Found Glory territory with its summery hook, providing an awkwardly cheerful conclusion to an otherwise bellicose album. Moreover, though criticising a hardcore band for writing short songs is like telling a fish off for swimming too much the whole thing does rush by in an intermittently indistinguishable blur in a way 2004’s Wake the Dead never did.

More to the point than Symptoms and Cures, its predecessor, Die Knowing does feel less daring than it though is more consistent in terms of songwriting. Though it doesn’t represent much of a landmark for Comeback Kid, this album does consolidate their strengths and provides an effective summation of their career thus far, with a few notable standouts. It may not draw in many new fans for the band, but it will please the old guard and its songs will sound magnificent in the live environment.

Rating: 7/10

[Michael Bird]

‘Should Know Better’

‘Die Knowing’

comebackkid

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