To some, Goldfinger will always be known as one of the great contributors to third wave ska over the past two decades (most prominently in the ‘90s), while others affectionately remember the band for contributing “Superman” for the first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater game, or “99 Red Balloons” being featured in the ‘00s comedy Eurotrip. If you were at all conscious during the explosion of mainstream punk and ska during this time, chances are that Goldfinger was on your radar–whether you knew it or not.
Diehard Goldfinger fans followed the band adamantly throughout the years and know the band made an indelible impression on the genre up to the turn of the new decade, realizing that band’s 2008 record Hello, Destiny would be their last record for the foreseeable future. However, as the years passed, a spark began to grow inside vocalist/guitarist John Feldmann, whose ambition and experience inspired him to pick up the pen once again. The end result is The Knife, the latest effort under the Goldfinger name, perfectly showcasing Feldmann’s punk ethos and vulnerability, while still sticking true to the spirit and excitement that allowed the band to rise to incredible heights.
The big change-up here is, without question, the roster–MxPx’s Mike Herrera, Blink 182’s Travis Barker, and Story of the Year’s Philip Sneed all lend their musical chops on the record. While at times, the record can crossover into supergroup territory due to the musicians’ difference in styles, the end result is a winner and still holds true to the overall essence of Goldfinger’s music from their ‘90s-‘00s heyday. The versatility is probably the strongest we’ve seen from a Goldfinger project thus far, walking a tightrope between goofy dorm room ska (“Get What I Need”), relaxing reggae (“Don’t Let Me Go”), jaunty pop-punk (“Say It Out Loud”), and straight-up punk (“Orthodontist Girl”). Through this shuffle comes a highlight reel of what made (and still makes) Goldfinger such an important act in the punk landscape–the band can get introspective and nostalgic, while still finding time to enjoy the best of what life has to offer.
The Knife may not be perfect–not every track feels necessary to the stew of what Goldfinger puts together–and at times, the vocals can have a bit of a cleaner quality that won’t mesh well with fans looking for the raw, gritty style of their early work. Still, what Feldmann & co. accomplish on this record is quite an achievement in the landscape of modern punk and ska, while still remembering the band’s legacy of what made their music so enjoyable. Here’s to hoping we don’t have to wait another 11 years for the next installment. Until then though, we’ll be keeping our ears to the ground, ready for more.