These days, the Knack is mostly remembered for just one single: the infectious, raunchy “My Sherona” that still gets airtime on every classic rock station in the country.
But that’s a real shame, because Get the Knack is filled with cuts that are almost more enjoyable.
According to legend (and Wikipedia), Get the Knack was recorded in just two weeks with a budget under $20,000. As a result, there’s an urgency in the tape that leaks a punk energy into what are otherwise pop songs.
There are very few overdubs, producing a raw, no-frills aesthetic while many of their contemporaries were filling out the atmosphere with synths and studio effects.
Many of the songs tear along with a punk energy that obscures the straightforward pop songwriting. Guitars are on fire with distortion, drums beat furiously, and the bass bounces along the low end. It lands somewhere between The Who Sings My Generation and The Kinks, with a healthy dose of Elvis Costello.
And in the face of songs like the new-wavey “Let Me Out,” a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Heartbeat,” and the moody ballad “Maybe Tonight,” “My Sherona” is actually kind of…disappointing. It’s a classic, to be sure, but years of exposure have worn it a bit. Meanwhile, the rest of the songs still sound fresh.
This album is also a great object lesson in how a work’s reputation can change over time. Upon its release, Get the Knack was the object of the punk scene’s rancor, as well as critical failure. A little more than a decade later, Kurt Cobain would name it one of his 50 favorite albums of all time. Recently, it managed to have the honor of a Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab reissue.
Which just goes to show you: art is subjective and everyone’s opinion is pointless. Just like what you want to like.