By Matthew Errico
Photo Courtesy of Neon Gold Records
As an east coast hip-hop head, I was immediately stoked to see the likes of Wyclef Jean, Cam’ron, and New Jersey’s own Fetty Wap on the track list for The Knocks’ debut album, 55. In the interest of full disclosure, I would like to mention that prior to getting my hands on their debut I had never heard of The Knocks. Before getting into their project, I did my research on the electronic duo from New York City.
What I found out was that this duo has been a name in the industry since their single “Make It Better” was used in a national Corona ad spot in 2010. They have opened for the likes of Ellie Goulding as well as countless other big names, and even before their own music was in the spotlight they were producing for Flo-Rida and Katy Perry, among others. The most interesting thing I read about these two producers was that their Facebook page was the very same one that leaked photos of Daft Punk back in 2013.
Now that I was acquainted with the group, I felt I should have already been aware of; I was ready to give the album a listen through. Then another one, and another one. As soon as the album’s first track “New York” started I realized that this was not the typical electronic music I have become accustomed to expect. This is electronic dance music that is somehow not EDM. You will not hear the same melodies, synths, and high hat rolls that have become standard practice in the ever-growing electronic music genre on this album. Instead you will hear groovy bass lines, catchy beats, and equally catchy lyrics. In agreement with The Knock’s track “Classic”, it does “feel so classic”. This album manages to be modern enough that I can easily see it being blasted in clubs and bars, but also so clearly influenced by older production styles. It is no surprise then that The Knocks list J Dilla and Ninth Wonder as some of their earliest influences, although you won’t find any Dilla-esque beats on this pop dance album.
For all of those out there ahead of the game and already on top of this rising electronic duo, you will find a lot of what you have already come to expect from B-Roc and JPatt. From hip-hop features like the ones I mentioned before, to pop artist Carly Rae Jepsen there is a lot here on 55 for the rest of you that have not already been made aware of The Knocks to enjoy.
My only complaint about this album is the size, I felt that there was a lack in variation from song to song. This could be in part to my own bias because I am not typically into the dance music scene, but upon multiple listens it was something that came to my attention. Having said that, I do think that The Knocks’ sound is a refreshing one in a genre that I feel has become terribly stagnant. Overall, I give 55 a 7/10 but I would recommend that anyone going to Bonnaroo this Summer stop by their stage for something different and what looks like one helluva show.