Album Review: The Knack, ‘Zoom’ (Reissue)
In 1972, the Who famously (and somewhat ironically) declared that “rock is dead” on their timeless classic, “Long Live Rock.” Twenty-six years later, the Knack followed up with “Pop Is Dead,” the leadoff track from their 1998 album Zoom, the first of three Knack titles to receive the expanded reissue treatment from Omnivore Recordings.
By the time the band recorded Zoom, it was on its third reunion following its original demise in late 1981. During that initial phase of existence, the Knack left behind three classic albums and, of course, the monster hit “My Sharona,” which earned their eternal status as a household name. Unfortunately, “Sharona” has unfairly overshadowed everything the band has ever put out since.
But, as Zoom proves, even two decades after first grabbing the world’s attention, the Knack hadn’t lost their acumen for the kind of jangly power-pop that made legends out of Cheap Trick and Big Star. Here, the Knack sound comfortable in their own skin while effortlessly peeling off hook after hook. Listening to Zoom, there’s no denying how seasoned the Knack had become by this time, and today’s generation of aspiring indie pop artists would do well to explore this album’s wealth of chord structures, melodies and overall sense of economy.
On “Terry & Julie Step Out,” the band even repurposes the windy guitar line from 1981’s “Soul Kissin'” (off of Round Trip, the third and final album before that first breakup). But rather than merely cannibalize the vibe of the earlier song, the Knack speed it up and turn it into a galvanizing power-pop boogie.
Zoom is also notable as the only Knack album to feature drumming superhero Terry Bozzio (Frank Zappa, Missing Persons, Jeff Beck, Duran Duran, Fantomas, Korn). Bozzio, known for his giant drumkits and prodigious technical chops, plays here with a straightahead approach that suggests he’s having as good of a time as the rest of the band seems to be. Most likely, he had as hard a time as listeners will in resisting the infectiously joyful vibe of the music; don’t be fooled, though, just because the band makes it look easy. The five bonus tracks — including a re-make of “Sharona” with Bozzio on drums — don’t necessarily shed any new light on the material, but they do add some charm to an already-charming release that warrants a second look.