As ranking art is a fool’s errand, I have simply listed my ten favourite punk albums from 2018 in no particular order with the burden of knowing that my opinions carry no further weight than anyone else’s. These ones are all really quite good though.
Cloud Nothings – Last Building Burning
You’re probably thinking, “But Overblown, Cloud Nothings aren’t a punk band.” Well, their new album is punk. It’s a filthy, fast, and furious blast of raw anger that is pretty much a total 180 from last year’s Life Without Sound. Having said that, the album does make space for a venture into avant garde noise in the form of the ten minute centre piece that is ‘Dissolution’ and more melodic territory in the form of lead single ‘So Right So Clean’.
Jeff Rosenstock – POST-
The former frontman of Bomb The Music Industry! is simply the king of pop-punk. His latest record POST- is everything to all men (and women too I imagine). His music can be topical, it can be angry, it can be defeated, it can be defiant, it can be hilarious, it can be annoying, it can be infectious. One thing it never is is forgettable.
Fucked Up – Dose Your Dreams
After the relatively unambitious but concisely awesome Glass Boys, the Toronto post-hardcore rock opera enthusiasts are back with the 18 song/82 minute opus Dose Your Dreams. Easily their most accessible and yet most adventurous album, the effort sees the group continue to experiment with the confines of the post-hardcore template. And, you know, J Mascis plays on it. So it’s got that going for it.
Iceage – Beyondless
After four years since the release of their third album Plowing Into the Field of Love, the Danish quartet finally returned with their ambitious and adventurous fourth album. Now with more melody, more brass, more strings and one pop singer. The album is described as jazz influenced but in practice the brass and strings serve to add colour to the familiar Iceage template rather than completely upend the formula. The result is brash, direct, and arresting.
Shame – Songs of Praise
For me, all it took was the single ‘One Rizla’. A three and a half minute shoegaze inflected slice of snotty melodic punk full of self-deprecating lyrics and defiance, it pretty much sums up the vibe of the entire album. Rightly lauded, this album shows there’s life in the old punk template yet.
Gouge Away – Burnt Sugar
Florida hardcore punks Gouge Away are definitely familiar with the sonic assault of Perfect Pussy. But, they repackage that in a more streamlined and coherent blast of heroic and glorious anger. Nice folks too.
Viagra Boys – Street Worms
Now that’s a proper punk band name. They also sport a proper punk sound. With confrontational and aggressive defiance the order of the day. The thing I love about their approach is that it makes you want to shake your ass. This is real danceable punk, without being dance punk. If you get me.
Turnstile – Time & Space
Apparently, this is a controversial choice. It is pretty slick in fairness. Or at least a lot slicker than most other entries on this list. However, Turnstile’s dynamic song structures and ryhthms win it for me. Who wants to listen to an album that is the same pace and attack for 45 minutes? Good God. Turnstile use lots of melody too. Tastefully though. Not just thrown into a big emo chorus.
Parquet Courts – Wide Awake!
New York outfit Parquet Courts have more albums than you can shake a big stick at. However, they somehow keep the quality at an inordinately high level of quality. Fair dues. That’s quite a tall order.
IDLES – Joy as an Act of Resistance
This is it. For my money, IDLES’ second album Joy as an Act of Resistance is without a doubt not only the best punk record of the year, but the best album overall. From Joe Talbot’s nuanced lyrics and committed delivery to the intricate music interplay, this album takes the blueprint set down by the outfit’s stellar debut and runs with it. Ditch all the others on the list and love. All you need is this album.