The Best Pop-Punk Releases Of 2017

We take a look back at the harmonies, hooks and heartache of this year’s stand-out pop-punk records.

Our favourite poppiest of pop-punks, As It Is continued to tread a path to superstardom with the release of okay. back in January. Lead-single Pretty Little Distance once again proves the band’s knack for penning a killer chorus, but where Patty Walters and his cohorts really impress with okay. is in their desire to broaden their sound: Patty's message to his younger sister on Hey Rachel is an example of a poignancy often lacking in pop-punk; while Soap – incredibly for an As It Is track – actually gets pretty damn heavy. They’re not the finished article yet, but As It Is are getting closer and closer to cracking it.
Chicago five-piece Sleep On It look set to be America’s latest world-conquering pop-punk export. Debut LP Overexposed showcases how the Chicago natives sit at the smarter end of the pop-punk scale, owing more to The Wonder Years than blink-182, while Sleep On It’s sonic and lyrically maturity is aided by frontman Zech Pluister, whose deep, earnest vocal style adds to the band’s appeal. Continue to hone this sound, and Sleep On It could have something very special.
Aside from that fact that, here and there, they sound a bit too much like Neck Deep – vocalist Sammy Clifford’s melodies are almost indistinguishable from Ben Barlow at times – WSTR’s debut full-length is a brilliant example of fun-loving pop punk. Catchy jams such as Footprints and Eastbound & Down are made for the Slam Dunk masses, while WSTR also dabble in more lyrically sincere fare on Lonely Smiles and Punchline, with the former being the best song the band have put their name to. Expect the Liverpool gang to join the ranks of the British pop-punk giants in no time.
Frontman John Feldman has been really busy producing all your favourite records of the last decade, and it’s meant that 2017 was the first time in nine years his ska-pop-punk trio have had chance to put out an album, but it was definitely worth the wait. The ska is still present on Get What I Need and the chilled-out Tijuana Sunrise, but Feldy and friends prove on The Knife that they can still spar with the biggest names in modern-day pop-punk: sort-of title-track Put The Knife Away is home to one of 2017’s biggest choruses; Say It Out Loud and A Million Miles both slam hard; and Orthodontist Girl – despite revealing the reason you might not want to be Feldman’s dental hygienist – is heaps of fun. Proof that pop-punk isn’t solely a young person’s game.
Kent quartet The Young Hearts have burst out of nowhere to become one of UK pop-punk’s brightest hopes. Juvenile, throwaway fare this ain’t: instead, the band’s killer EP Honestly, I’m Just Thinking displays influences as varied as The Gaslight Anthem and Thursday. This is blue-collar, honest as it comes punk rock, laced with a poppy sheen and an outpouring of emotion. The Young Hearts possess a quality that few pop-punk bands can convey, and that’s genuine heart. These guys are a band to get behind.
Concept albums and pop-punk aren’t two things that normally go hand-in-hand, but Welsh trio Junior aren’t your normal pop-punk band. 2015’s excellent Juniorland EP got the deluxe reissue treatment this year, and while that doesn’t exactly make this a ‘new’ release, it’s one that didn’t initially get the recognition it deserved. Plus, Junior are one of our favourite new bands, so we’re having 'em in this list! Juniorland is a concept EP with a retro-suburbia setting and intertwining storylines, and a sound that owes a fair amount to self-titled-era blink-182. The stand-out song comes in the form of A House That’s Not Quite Home, a track that should strike a chord with anyone who’s had to bid farewell to a place where memories were made.
Knuckle Puck’s tunes have always been characterised by a sense of introspectiveness and sincerity, but the band’s qualities have never been as fully realised as they are on Shapeshifter. Crushing cuts like Double Helix and Everyone Lies To Me continue the band’s career-long dalliance the heavier, hardcore-influenced end of pop-punk, while Gone is almost certainly their best song to date. The shape of the band’s identity may be shifting on album 2, but this band’s importance to the scene hasn’t wavered: if anything, Knuckle Puck’s stock has only risen higher.
Philly five-piece Grayscale might just be the best thing to happen to pop punk in ages. Sophomore album Adornment flew somewhat under the radar in the UK on release, but the reputation of these guys is growing by the day, with a debut tour on British soil scheduled for March next year in support of their buddies As It Is. Adornment has everything you’d want from a pop-punk record in 2017: it’s got catchy hooks (see lead single Atlantic) and tender balladry (the heart-wrenching Forever Yours); but beneath the sheen lies a band with real intelligence. Pop punk this may be, but derivative it sure ain’t. Check out killer cuts like Mum and Slept – the latter of which incorporates elements of Irish folk – and you’ll see what we mean.
Before writing much of what makes up second full-length Great Heights & Nosedives, Eastbourne mob ROAM were planning on going with a heavier, more experimental sound. While we’ll never know what the merits of that transition may have been, what ROAM present on GH&N is unadulterated, pure pop-punk fun. In upping the pop stakes this time around, the five-piece clearly have their sights set on dizzy new levels. If they carry on penning fun-loving, party-starting jams like Alive, they might just climb the ladder all the way to the top.
They’ve strayed pretty far from the genre’s trademark formula, but pop-punk is a family All Time Low will always be welcome in, and even if Last Young Renegade is pretty light on the guitars, that doesn’t stop it from being a damn good album. Alex Gaskarth and co.’s Fueled By Ramen debut is home to some of the band’s most accomplished and consistent songwriting to date, such as their collab with alt.pop heavyweights Tegan and Sara (Ground Control) and the power-pop perfection of Dark Side Of Your Room. And if you prefer ATL when they concentrate on the pop-punk bangers, then the title-track should satisfy your cravings for a massive chorus.
If Life's Not Out To Get You was Neck Deep’s shot at the title, this was the knockout blow. And at the heart of this record’s appeal is, well, its heart, especially on 19 Seventy Sumthin’, where Ben Barlow chronicled the relationship of his parents, from first dance to last rites after his father Terry’s passing last year. Mature, deep and brilliant, this was a proud victory.

We’ve been absolutely inundated with pop-punk releases in 2017. Whether it’s the return of relative veterans like Goldfinger and All Time Low, or the continued rise of upstarts like Knuckle Puck and WSTR, what this year has proved is that, despite the fact that the genre’s golden years may lie in the past, pop punk is a corner of the rock world that remains cherished by many.

Scrolling through this list, you’ll find bands and albums that together explore every aspect of pop punk, with elements of ska, hardcore, alt-pop and emo being present in this year’s stand-out records. There’s even a bloody concept LP in there. Seriously, we’re not fucking with you… 

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