The Knitts aren’t new, although they’re still certainly young enough to be. The L.A. agitators have knocked around paying their dues for about five years, playing club gigs big and small, warts and all, but only this month did the quintet release their debut album. “Retreat” finds the band — brothers Justin and Charlie Volkens, Victor Portillo, Jaime “Jimmy” Luque and Clare Taylor Wilkes — still charmingly bratty but substantially less ratty. Armed with guitar licks wielded like kitchen knives, “Retreat,” produced by Grammy winner Michael Leonhart (Michael Leonhart Orchestra, Yoko Ono, Steely Dan), has one foot in the sticky mire of American pop-punk and the other in the lineage of U.K. punk bands ranging from the Clash to the Libertines to the Rakes, with precious little of the album falling into the currently fashionable retro-garage movement.
The piano-based opener “She Likes the Idea of Gold,” in fact, is a 3 1/2-minute suite that hardly foreshadows the swagger of post-punk projectiles such as “Hold Steady Pretty Lady” and “Get Up! Get Out!” Similarly, the wistful “Lovers Take in Their Own” seems an outlier paired with the goofball “Carousel” (whistling and all). Or the acoustic lament “Simple Folk” compared to the scratchy jaunt “Vamonos Mexico.” Overall, it’s best just to act like those little EPs and singles the Knitts released during their formative years never happened; “Retreat,” just out on Knitting Factory Records, has found a way to provoke without being predictable.
||| Stream: “Retreat” (full album)
||| Live: The Knitts celebrate their album release with a show March 21 at the Federal Bar. Info.
||| Previously: “Get Up! Get Out!”