I really wish there were more full albums from 2018 I loved, but I didn’t have a lot of drive to invest into full albums unless it clicked for me the first time.
Honorable Mention: Joyce Manor – Million Dollars to Kill Me
5. Underoath – Erase Me
I haven’t liked an Underoath song since 2004, but holy shit I played the hell out of this album this year. This is the first album the band has released since reuniting in 2015, and it’s such a breath of fresh air for Underoath. After losing Aaron, the band took an even harder turn into metalcore, and lost a lot of the complexity that made them unique when they first hit the scene. Now the band has reunited, and rediscovered themselves. This feels like the band took their raw emotion from They’re Only Chasing Safety, picked out the best parts of the metalcore era, and then sprinkled some old school hardcore on top of it. It’s slick and polished, but still powerful and energetic. It’s such an exciting album to listen to, and it makes me real glad the band got back together.
Standout Tracks: “On My Teeth“, “ihateit”, “It Has To Start Somewhere”
4. Basement – Beside Myself
As I mentioned in my final playlist post, this album was a surprise for me. I hadn’t heard of the band before, and after checking out the lead single, “Disconnect,” via Reddit, I was hooked on it. It’s one of my top tracks, and the rest of the album backs it up. It’s got a very Jimmy Eat World-inspired sound full of catchy hooks and heart-felt lyrics. It pulls the classic pop-punk move of throwing an acoustic track mid-album, which I appreciate. It’s a real solid album front-to-back, and could set this band up for big things in the future.
Standout Tracks: “Disconnect“, “Be Here Now”, “Keepsake”
3. The Wonder Years – Sister Cities
The Wonder Years is the greatest pop-punk band since the pop-punk heyday of the early 2000s, and will likely be remembered as one of the best bands in the genre. This album shows that the band is able to grow and mature in a way that their genre-mates usually cannot. Some may say, “well that means this album isn’t pop-punk anymore”, and that’s just not true. Listening to this album, you still hear the pop-punk spirit of the band in so many of the tracks, even though they’ve added new elements, layered on new sounds, and wrapped it in new emotions. This is a band who is not afraid to grow up, and that’s what I love about them. Singer Dan Campbell is my age, and the lyrics mature with the band, and mature with me as well. He wrote songs about growing up in the suburbs and becoming an adult as I was doing those very things. Beyond that, I thought their most emotionally strong album was No Closer to Heaven (2015), an album that told the story of Campbell losing a loved one, and shortly thereafter I needed that, too. In 2018, Sister Cities is the tale of being lost in the world – and realizing that at the same time, we’re more connected than ever before. It’s got some of the best work The Wonder Years has ever produced, and it hits just as close to home as it ever has.
Standout Tracks: “Raining in Kyoto”, “Sister Cities”, “Pyramids of Salt”, “The Ocean Grew Hands to Hold Me”
2. The Get Up Kids – Kicker EP
The Kicker EP sees the emo kings of Lawrence, KS find themselves again in a four-track romp that shines like a mirror up against the band’s career.
(I never finished writing this, but published it anyway)
Standout Tracks: “Maybe”, “Better This Way“, “I’m Sorry”, “My Own Reflection”
1. Tiny Moving Parts – Swell
Swell‘s cover art is very appropriate, with a finger cut off at the knuckle and a large scar, because that’s how your hand would look if it were to dig through this album, simply because there are so many hooks in it. Whether it is a ripping lead guitar part, or a catchy lyric, there’s so much meat on this album to sink your teeth in to. The most surprising part, and this applies to the entire TMP catalog, is that lead guitarist and vocalist Dylan Mattheisen is able to play these extremely fast and intricate parts while screaming and bopping around on stage.
Standout Tracks: “Applause“, “Caution”, “Wildfire”, “Warm Hand Splash”