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The Jaguar Journal

The Jaguar Journal

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Conventionality in the Unconventional

An Incorrect Analysis of Post-Punk
Kevin Cummins / Iconic Images
British singer Ian Curtis of post-punk band Joy Division, photographed at TJ Davidson’s rehearsal room, Little Peter Street, Manchester, August 19, 1979.

What even makes music, punk? Well actually what makes it considered post-punk. The musical arrangement, the era, and theme all play parts in what makes the artist a punk artist, and even more so a post-punk artist. Punk is defined as non-conformist, fast tempos, and distorted riffs with your standard 4 instruments; lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, drums. Think aspects of Greenday or better yet the core idea of The Offspring. Now make it experimental, add in sounds and ideas that change the original characteristics of punk, but keep the core ideas of a four instrument band. Having a background in rock and metal, I am stepping into a different world of music that just grabs my curiosity and puts it into a choke hold. Let’s do some learning. 

Started Post-Punk: Joy Division/The Cure

For my understanding of what makes Post Punk what it is, it’s important to know the metaphorical kings: The Cure, but more importantly, Joy Division. Their ability to reference emotional problems within simplistic musical arrangements. Following patterns that build on each other throughout the song without being too over the top or excessive. The fans love them for the content, and their sound. They both set a standard for almost experimental like sound, which echoes throughout the decades. 

The Twilight Sad

Leaning into thematic ideas of Wire, The Cure, and even a touch of The Killers… but also Fontaines D.C.? Even writing a whole article on my love for The Twilight Sad, I struggle even now to make a comparison. Their sound stays close to between albums with a clear difference with presentation whilst still expressing ideas of vulnerability and desire. An artist focused on reliving the past, and self reflection, with just a wall of sound being present through every song. They combine synth into the line up, mixing a keyboard with the guitars and bass. Following the same idea of Fontaines, they use simplicity to their benefit in both their 2014 and 2019 albums. That sound is what makes them so unique in a sea of indie bands.  

Fontaines D.C.

This isn’t a Joy Division cover band, it’s Fontaines D.C. The opener for Arctic Monkeys 2023 tour; Fontaines D.C. is an Irish band based out of Dublin. An attribute that gives the band praise is their ability to change their sound between the different albums. Skinty Fia, released in 2022, uses a mix of distortion and reverb to make each chord echo throughout the listen, having complexity in the guitars. The album even showcases an accordion progression, with the following song having groove mix. But step back roughly three years to their 2019 album, and it’s reminiscent of Joy Division. Vocals become more flat, with the musical arrangement being simplistic but still artistic in presentation. Energetic. The core ideas of Fontaines stem from their ability to convey the ambition and wants of oneself, in any manner they see fit with a love for poetry and metaphors to ailing issues.

Borrowed Ideas

Numerous bands borrow the idea of the post-punk genre, with the standard four instrument set-up but mixing the sounds differently. For instance, and this will be a weird choice, Arctic Monkeys newest album, “The Car.” Their slower sound mixed with additional tones and instrumental compositions takes a huge detour from their garage rock sound that their fans know them for, favoring a more stylistic vocal centered approach. Playing with the effects of their guitars rings with outside influences, but still twisting it into a unique sound. Not post-punk, but post-punk revival.

Another artist, The Strokes, follows this post-punk revival scene. “Automatic Stop” echoes with a simplistic yet emotional idea of love, setting the stage whilst in contrast to other garage rock bands at the time. 


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About the Contributor
Ethan Coleman, Editor
Ethan Coleman Spread Co-Editor One of our very hardworking editors, when he and Vee put their heads together they make incredible pages.
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