As punk rock became more and more commercial and a parody of itself, its followers became more and more disenfranchised. Post-punk took the best of its predecessor – the harshness and the politics – and added more.
10. The Sound – Jeopardy
As atmospheric as Joy Division but slightly more upbeat, Jeopardy is amongst London’s best contributions to the post-punk scene. An excellent debut album that’s as angular as it is soulful.
9. The Chameleons – John Peel Sessions
These Peel sessions capture the rawest points of this much forgotten about Manchester band; the opening thirty seconds of Perfumed Garden couldn’t be any more driving, not to mention the entirety of Looking Inwardly. Once an underground gem, always an underground gem.
8. Josef K – The Only Fun In Town
Maybe the best thing to come from Edinburgh and the Scottish post-punk scene, Josef K released their debut album (and their only studio album) in 1981. Fast-paced angular guitar work and an incredible rhythmic awareness gained them an immediate cult following, with bands such as Interpol and Franz Ferdinand declaring themselves fans. As you might expect with anything punk-related they broke up shortly after the release of their debut album, but proved influential for the many bands that followed.
7. Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures
What is hailed as the holy grail of post-punk might as well have been recorded in a storage container with Peter Hook’s crude baselines, Bernard Sumner’s piercing guitar and most famously Ian Curtis’ haunting vocals all creating what would be the antithesis of Phil Spector’s wall-of-sound. Needless to say, it only went on to be one of two precocious albums they would ever release.
6. Wire – Chairs Missing
Punk was far from dead before Wire had taken the genre and run with it on Chairs Missing. Borrowing synthesisers from Kraftwerk and Brian Eno (not literally), Wire proved that they could go well beyond their already established art-punk roots. ‘Outdoor Miner’ has been a staple for indie rock ever since – Luna have covered it, and it serves the inspiration for the name of Mac DeMarco’s first band, Outdoor Miners (very different), not to mention the fact that the menace of ‘I Am The Fly’ left a lasting impression on Blur’s musical output for years to come.
5. Echo & The Bunnymen – Heaven Up Here
When psychedelia met post-punk, Heaven Up Here was born. Atmospheric drums and guitars paired with Ian McCulloch’s Jim Morrison-twisted vocals keep you on the edge of your seat for superb eleven tracks. The Killers wouldn’t quite have the same sound if it weren’t for ‘It Was A Pleasure’.
4. Franz Ferdinand – Franz Ferdinand
Setting out with the simple and admirable aim to ‘make records that girls can dance to’ seemed to get the Glasgow Art School quartet far in 2004. Fans of Roxy Music, Pulp, and anything Scottish, Franz Ferdinand used their songwriting abilities to write eleven jerky, self-aware, and sometimes absurd dance-floor fillers. Alex Kapranos is the only man since Morrissey to pull off that homoerotic swagger and get away with it.
3. Gang Of Four – Entertainment!
The album that ‘rhythm guitar’ actually meant something more than being credited for strumming while singing on the liner notes of an album. Described as ‘white boy funk’, Andy Gill proved you could have a guitar solo without having a guitar solo. Upbeat, invigorating, and lyrically explosive, Entertainment! went on to influence far more even outside their genre, Gorillaz and LCD Soundsystem to name a few.
2. Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights
In 2002, in the aftermath of 9/11, four smartly dressed New Yorkers released the defining album of post-punk revival of the 2000s. Dynamic, octave-jumping basslines, commanding drums (Sam Fogarino is the reason for the saying ‘doesn’t miss a beat’) , sinewy guitars, and Paul Banks’ sober baritone are all part of the many intricacies that make up a theatrical level performance. Although often skipped over for the 2001 album-of-the-year Is This It?, Turn On The Bright Lights made for the perfect ode to an early 2000s New York.
1. Television – Marquee Moon
They might’ve released it in 1977, but it would be the precursor to anything post-punk (and still is). Television were amongst the best bands to emerge from the New York punk scene of the late 70s thanks to their meticulous and rewardingly complex tunes. The synchronicity of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd’s guitars created an incredible ‘network of lightning’, to quote Patti Smith. Every moment is raw and incredible in its beauty, the title track being maybe the best song to pass the 10 minute point.