FEATURE: A Colourful Cocktail: The Best Punk, Post-Punk and Pop-Punk Albums of 2018




A Colourful Cocktail


PHOTO CREDIT: @huguesdb/Unsplash  

The Best Punk, Post-Punk and Pop-Punk Albums of 2018


OVER the next day or two...



I will look at some softer and more melodic styles of music – when it comes to the best albums of the year – but, for today, I will stick with the more intense and fired-up. It has been an especially grand and memorable year for artists in the Punk/Post-Punk genre – and those who mix a bit of Pop into the pot. I have already covered the best Indie, Alternative and Rock records of 2018 so it is the turn of the Punk warriors. Here is an essential rundown of 2018 gems that have impressed critics and made their mark on the public. If the crop of 2019 follows in the lead of the Punk-flavoured pioneers of 2018 then I think it will be a year we will remember...


 IN THIS PHOTO: Goat Girl/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

FOR a very long time to come.



ShameSongs of Praise

Date of Release: 12th January, 2018

Label: Dead Oceans

Producers: Dan Foat/Nathan Boddy


Elsewhere, on ‘Tasteless’, he rails against those “distorted by distance”, only arsed when world affairs affect them personally, and delivers the lines with a desperate, hoarse bark. If all this sounds a bit heavy, it doesn’t account for the sense of sarcasm and dark fun that laces the album. On standout ‘Friction’, with its insistent, looping refrain and jaunty, camp drum fills, you can almost hear Steen wink through the lines, “Do you ever need the needy? Do they ever tug on your heart?” He’s deadly serious, and at the same time sending himself up, the sarky shite.

This is a band with a real sense of showmanship, as those who have witnessed Shame’s sweat-slicked live shows will know. It’s this that makes ‘Songs Of Praise’ utterly invigorating” – NME

Stream: https://open.spotify.com/album/3A1kutvBmC6czSsSv7aR5E?si=TNFb5MzcS3O8AtJQj2tL6Q

Standout Tracks: Dust on Trial/Donk/Friction

Finest Cut: One Rizla

IDLESJoy as an Act of Resistance

Date of Release: 31st August, 2018

Label: Partisan

Producers: Space/Adam Greenspan/Nick Launay


It runs the risk of being overwhelming, if not for the sense of elation that Talbot brings to the table, masterfully exemplified by his staunch defense of immigration on "Danny Nedelko," which is both a personal case for a good friend -- the lead vocalist of Heavy Lungs -- and a series of more relatable characters that immigration has brought to the U.K. Most importantly, the track swells to such manic levels of celebratory joy that it inescapably sweeps everything along with it. Conversely, the linchpin of the album, "June," features heartbreaking lyrics and is easily the most personal song for Talbot; it entails the tragic loss of his baby daughter, an honest and brave move, especially considering how recently that unfortunate event took place.

In a move almost possible to predict, Idles have also included a full-blown cover with their own rendition of Solomon Burke's "Cry to Me," which works more than it really should, both thematically and in this new crunchier form. Overall, Joy as an Act of Resistance manages to plumb new depths for Idles -- that they've achieved another record in such a short space of time is admirable, let alone one that shines head and shoulders over the majority of their peers -- and it certainly upholds their status as one of the U.K.'s most exciting new acts” – AllMusic

Stream: https://open.spotify.com/album/27NYgZQHcapoSAs5bWAxRI?si=XMhFGUCEQZCZiJfdHT0zXQ

Standout Tracks: I’m Scum/Danny Nedelko/Gram Rock

Finest Cut: Samaritans

Goat GirlGoat Girl


Date of Release: 6th April, 2018

Label: Rough Trade Records


In the face of these degenerates Goat Girl stand unfazed, a sentiment that remains a through-line even when the album warms up. The Man is a feverish love song, where lead singer Lottie, aka Clottie Cream, repeats the phrase 'You’re the man for me' ad nauseam with a moaning drawl until her infatuation steadily warps into obsession. Meanwhile, clocking in at under two minutes, Country Sleaze is a brief explosion of attitude, where a wall of crunchy guitars and bass drums envelops Lottie as she spits that 'nobody will mess' with her.

In Goat Girl’s London, a fucked up place full of weirdos both loathsome and benign – mostly loathsome – we’d say that’s a fair attitude to have” – The Skinny

Stream: https://open.spotify.com/album/3jDJ8KuleRVdhS2DJKFEW2?si=LOg62VKKQ7KJEagjfbrq_Q

Standout Tracks: Creep/Cracker Drool/Slowly Reclines

Finest Cut: The Man

flasherConstant Image

Date of Release: 8th June, 2018

Label: Domino Recording Company


Constant Image peaks with “Who’s Got Time?” which chooses a shitty relationship over none at all. Described by the band as “a celebration of disappointment and failure,” the track indulges in some common punk tropes: ennobling underdogs who just can’t help themselves, finding triumph in camaraderie rather than traditional success. But Flasher don’t romanticize the times when the adrenaline nightshift gets way too real, fueled by whatever stimulant gets them through that thing they do to keep the lights on; they highlight the power structures that keep them on that treadmill. People who share the band’s demographic profile and financial straits like to joke about what’s “tired” and what’s “wired,” what’s “woke” and what’s “broke.” Constant Image recognizes that they are all of the above—and have been for quite a while” – Pitchfork

Stream: https://open.spotify.com/album/6fvUDhvz6hDVck9epHLnf6?si=Ffb04FwJTi6iICjA_0OGMQ

Standout Tracks: Sun Come and Golden/Harsh Light/Punching Up

Finest Cut: Pressure

Screaming FemalesAll at Once


Date of Release: 23rd February, 2018

Label: Don Giovanni Records

Producers: Matt Bayles/Screaming Females


Crucially, it feels like the work of a band completely in sync, trying to push in different directions before ricocheting into new territory and exploring with a gleeful menace. Some of the riffs here are fragile and fun ('Fantasy Lens' dive from spiky noise to gentle jangle feels spontaneous and is naturally brilliant) while others simply get their heads down and their hands dirty ('Agnes Martin' has more than a hint of QOTSA to its formidable noise). Word has it the band wanted to echo the free-flowing nature of their red-hot live shows on this record; all evidence points to that being a pretty smart idea, overall. This is the work of a band continuing their dramatic ascension from spirited young punks to one of the finest power trios on the planet – even at it’s bleakest, 'All At Once' is sheer rock’n’roll joy from start to finish” – CLASH

Stream: https://open.spotify.com/album/27WCDmHjVFzzdhxjqMKDgD?si=Lkos1aVbTgKbHsrlPelG0Q

Standout Tracks: Black Money/Deeply/Bird in Space

Finest Cut: I’ll Make You Sorry

Spanish Love SongsSchmaltz

Date of Release: 30th March, 2018

Label: Uncle M Music


“The Boy Considers His Haircut” is my clear favorite from the album, a song that takes minutiae and reveals it to be symptoms of a greater angst. It has great screamlong melodies throughout the song, without ever dipping into a strict verse-chorus structure. The aversion to, but not total rejection of, traditional song structure reveals another parallel between Spanish Love Songs and The Menzingers—the effect is a strong one though, making each song feel natural, like it’s growing off of itself in new and organic directions.

There’s too many great songs on Schmaltz to talk about individually, but the number of highlights could very well be the same as its tracklisting, as each new listen offers something new to appreciate. That’s the depth the songwriting brings to the album; there’s a lot to unpack and Spanish Love Songs craft their music to make sure you want to unpack it, even when it hurts, even when it’s just a mirror to our discontent” – Dying Scene

Stream: https://open.spotify.com/album/1ZhCUWtUp7P7Yj1LlQi3yQ?si=lmIgOsWzQyymRU-zBHskSw

Standout Tracks: Sequels, Remakes, & Adaptations/Buffalo Buffalo/It’s Not Interesting

Finest Cut: Bellyache

Muncie GirlsFixed Ideals

Date of Release: 31st August, 2018

Label: Specialist Subject Records


At the fulcrum of its brilliance was singer/bassist Lande Hekt, whose lyrical observations bounced from feminism, to Sylvia Plath, to the sort of political awaking that occurs when you realise you’ve spent a decade at school and you haven’t really learned anything of very much importance at all. This time round, there’s a more coherent theme to Lande’s songs. She’s largely concerned with the concept of health, largely of the mental variety. ‘Clinic’ will be familiar to anyone who’s ever woken up with a head feeling like a test site for Trident, only to be told by the doctor’s receptionist “there’ll be a three week wait”. Then there’s the frenzied ‘Picture Of Health’ which not only shares the viewing platform for the abyss with the aforementioned number, but serves as the best argument for fuzz pedals to be given out free to children we’ve heard all year. You’ve probably got a pretty good idea what songs like ‘Laugh Again’ and ‘Falling Down’ are about. Not that it’s relentless horror. The song ‘Bubble Bath’ uses actual bubbles as a musical instrument of sorts” – NME

Stream: https://open.spotify.com/album/3CyxNM1u2MmhWR9tmXarmg?si=r39ipprqSiWzV6Iv9G_5oQ

Standout Tracks: Picture of Health/Isn’t Life Funny/Locked Up

Finest Cut: Clinic  



Date of Release: 4th May, 2018

Label: Escho  

Producers: Nis Bysted/Iceage


Beyondless builds on Plowing’s change of direction, with far more satisfying results. Frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s voice still dominates, but this time his slurring delivery works in the band’s favour, giving Showtime and the stop-start Thieves Like Us the air of unsettling late-night cabaret numbers. His duet with girlfriend Sky Ferreira on the brass-assisted Pain Killer, meanwhile, is an exercise in barely harnessed chaos – think Fun House-era Stooges – that’s as impressive as anything the band have ever done. Other highlights include the relentless opener, Hurrah (even if its lyrical obsession with killing sounds distinctly adolescent), and the uncharacteristic restraint of Take It All. It’s by no means a comfortable listen, but it is their most intriguing and fully rounded album to date” – The Observer   

Stream: https://open.spotify.com/album/5H8wFFblf7YvGc7LbBzuR9?si=_WOEIJmwS0aEsfj2A6UqOg

Standout Tracks: Pain Killer/Plead the fifth/Thieves like us

Finest Cut: Catch it

LithicsMating Surfaces (Abridged Version)


Date of Release: 25th May, 2018

Label: Kill Rock Stars

Producers: Nis Bysted/Iceage


Released via Olympia, Washington, indie imprint par excellence Kill Rock Stars, Lithics’ sonic cubism consistently intrigues on their second album. From fist-clenched opener ‘Excuse Generator’ to breakneck closing blitz ‘Dancing Guy’, it’s an unfurling tapestry of interlocking DIY minimalist art-punk where precision and abandon prove uniquely compatible.

Despite pinning early 1980s Fall worship a little too visibly on its sleeve, the bobbing ‘Still Forms’ is a real triumph early on, while the five-minute ‘Boyce’ – the longest track by some distance – wields dissonance with remarkable aplomb. Elevating promise to certain brilliance, Aubrey Hornor’s languid vocals are fully present yet deftly unemotional on ‘Mating Surfaces’’ dozen combustions. On each of them, Lithics, bona fide post-punk revivalists, have zero dearth of confidence and it really stands to reason” – Loud and Quiet

Stream: https://open.spotify.com/album/5H8wFFblf7YvGc7LbBzuR9?si=_WOEIJmwS0aEsfj2A6UqOg

Standout Tracks: Still Forms/Boyce/Glass of Water

Finest Cut: Edible Door

The BethsFuture Me Hates Me


Date of Release: 10th August, 2018  

Label: Carpark Records


Prior to forming the band, all four members studied jazz at the University of Auckland, and their well-bound musicality is certainly evidence that they took their studies seriously. Until earlier this year, Stokes taught trumpet to children in Auckland, a job she ditched to focus on the Beths full-time: “The Beths is almost reactionary to jazz school and trumpet,” she told Rolling Stone. “It’s a guitar band. We make guitar music. I like it that way.” Future Me Hates Me is more than proof that she and her bandmates made the right choice on refocusing their musical concerns—and it’s an absolute thrill to think about where this young band will take their talent next” – Pitchfork  

Stream: https://open.spotify.com/album/7LjtUEveoqeoOMGfGhVgsd?si=EBtu9icDTHWd0TE6tnITvQ

Standout Tracks: Uptown Girl/Little Death/Happy Unhappy

Finest Cut: Great No One  

The Wonder YearsSister Cities

Date of Release: 6th April, 2018  

Label: Hopeless Records


It’s not all gut wrenching frustrations being exercised however. "It Must Get Lonely" feels optimistic in comparison to much of the album; its buoyant verses a contrast to the despondency that features elsewhere. "Flowers Where Your Face Should Be" is another example of one of Sister Cities' more subdued moments. Though sombre in tone, delicate guitars provide the track with an airy sense of nostalgia, providing listeners with a brief moment of respite.

For the most part however, Sister Cities is a record that feels born out of frustration, and of heartbreak. Its 11 tracks taking listeners on an rollercoaster of emotional peaks and troughs, and by the time the closing moments of final track "The Ocean Grew Hands To Hold Me" ring out, you can’t help but feel bruised, beaten and above all cleansed” – The Line of Best Fit

Stream: https://open.spotify.com/album/3VRTF9hehAZgjvA4W2gIaI?si=chuAldGHQ7OrM36b-dtkUQ

Standout Tracks: Pyramids of Salt/Sister Cities/The Orange Grove

Finest Cut: It Must Get Lonely