At the start of their careers, New York electronic production duo the Knocks built their brand around remixes for high-profile artists like Ellie Goulding, Katy Perry, and Taylor Swift. They went on to release a string of their own catchy, beat-heavy songs with a wide range of guests from Cam'ron to Carly Rae Jepsen. Many of these songs -- along with a whole crop of fresh ones -- appeared on their long-delayed debut, 55, which sounds like a "greatest-hits" collection of stand-alone singles. The roster of featured vocalists is impressive, with JPatt and DJ B-Roc combining talent from multiple genres and expertly utilizing the strength of each artist. Fetty Wap's wobbly rap-croon complements the sweet vocals of POWERS' Crista Ru on the Len-meets-Daft Punk summer rush "Classic." Wyclef Jean uses his party-maestro talents on the nocturnal funk of "Kiss the Sky." X Ambassadors' vocalist Sam Harris brings the passionate power on "Comfortable." The breezy Carly Rae track "Love Me Like That" is a throwback '80s jam that could fit on her 2015 album EMOTION. Indie rock band Walk the Moon contribute the soaring (and aptly titled) closing highlight "Best for Last." A handful of younger guests also graces 55 -- like Brooklyn singer Matthew Koma, former Glee cast member Alex Newell, indie duo Magic Man, and singer Phoebe Ryan -- balancing the star power with less-well-known talent. Despite the varying influences, 55 is a cohesive experience, tied together by the Knocks' masterful production and ability to craft an earworm.
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AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung