“Just can’t stand the same damn endless routine/Cause it’s all gonna lead to a disposable life!”

This is the shout-sung chorus on “Gasoline,” the opening track from Chicago pop punk band Knuckle Puck’s upcoming EP Disposable Life. The five song EP, which comprises four originals and one cover, is a recommitment to the band’s founding sound—the tight, manicured, major-key chaos of ripping guitars, sprinting bass, airtight drums, and harmonized vocals—but it’s also a recommitment to an idea: that every day and moment has meaning, and every life has value.

Vocalist Joe Taylor describes the EP, which follows last year’s LP 2020, as a throwback to when the band first started. “It feels like we’re kind of rebooting Knuckle Puck,” says Taylor. “Making this music has been the most fun we’ve had in a really long time.”

That feeling is in part due to the break in working forced by the pandemic, but it’s also a product of a freer approach to writing and recording outside of label pressure. “It was fresh and exciting again,” says Taylor. “It was like ‘Oh man, this feels like it did in 2013.’ We captured some of that magic.”

The result is a record that Taylor says bridges the gap between KP sounds of past and present. The title, Disposable Life, nods to this stretch of time in its own way: what does it mean to lead a meaningful life?

“Nobody wants to live a life that is disposable,” says Taylor. “Everybody wants their life and their time to mean something, and I think in our daily lives, there’s a choice that can be made to do small things every day so that you really do feel like, ‘hey, my life has value.’”

The title and the record’s lyrics are partly a reframing of the average human experience. Modern culture has convinced us that a ‘normal’ life is unremarkable, but this paves over the beauty inherent in routine relations. “Everyone looks at their experience as like, ‘I want something more,’” explains Taylor. “But any conversation that you have with anybody, there are things that you can pull out, or walking somewhere and just looking around and being alive. There’s a lot of meaning to me in that, even if you go for a two-block walk.”

The songs on Disposable Life came from ideas Taylor workshopped with lead guitarist Kevin Maida. When the band gathered again post-pandemic restrictions, the goal was simple: write songs and finish them without any external end goal. Between December 2020 and February 2021, the band wrote and demoed four songs before recording in Crown Point, Indiana at longtime collaborator and producer Seth Henderson’s Always Be Genius Recording Studio. Vince Ratti (Circa Survive, The Wonder Years) mixed the EP and Kris Crummett (Dance Gavin Dance, Mayday Parade) mastered.

The record opens with “Gasoline,” a mid-tempo pop punk thunder clap that hammers home the record’s thesis on its chorus and plans for a radical new reality: “With every day spent in the shade, think I’ll watch it burn/Throw gasoline on an open flame,” calls Taylor.

Next is lead single “Levitate,” a song that Maida says is “for the KP fans who have stuck around over the last decade supporting this band, and for those who will continue to stick around.” It’s a blast-beat ripper with breakneck riffing and frenetic drum work as Taylor outruns his enemies on the chorus: “There used to be demons hanging over me/But now they can’t touch me/Don’t you see me levitating?”

Follow-up “In the Bag” is early-2000s radio-punk-rock bliss, with chiming guitar leads, a swaggering bass-led bridge, and a sun-drenched, wide-open-sky chorus: “The sound won’t drown me out cause I will not live for my secrets!” Taylor declares. “Lonely Island” punches in with a burst of drums and guitar, a hum of upbeat lead work, and Taylor’s vocals defiant and confident before allowing a hint of existentialism: “Could we buy back time with money if we try?”

The collection is capped off with a scorching, faithful cover of blink-182’s “Here’s Your Letter” from the trio’s 2003 untitled LP. “We’re always talking about that record when we’re working on music,” says Taylor. “We’ve always joked about covering ‘Here’s Your Letter.’ This time, we just did it.”

Disposable Life is a reintroduction to Knuckle Puck: it’s a celebration of the past decade of KP and a supercharged mission statement for the future. It’s a sharp inhale, a spring-loaded blast off the starting blocks after the tumult of the past two years. It’s a sign of good things yet to come.

Knuckle Puck