I thought it would be fun to explore a few tracks from excellent bands who aren't spoken about as much as the genre's more legendary groups. For the purposes of this list, I decided to exclude Joy Division, The Cure, and Bauhaus. As someone who doesn't typically do lists of this nature, I attempted to find songs that I not only find structurally or aesthetically interesting, but those that have influenced me and helped shape my perception of the genre and songwriting as a whole. I hope you enjoy these five songs as much as I have enjoyed compiling them.
The Reds, "Self Reduction," from The Reds (A&M, 1979)
I'm not even sure if this band belongs on this list, because for all intents and purposes The Reds are not really a post-punk band in a traditional sense, but this song definitely belongs here. The track is so eerie, the guitars and synth in particular, but at the same time it has this snotty punk attitude behind it. I simply cannot get enough of it.
The Sound, "Heartland," from Jeopardy (Korova, 1980)
A fantastic track by a fantastic band. I actually prefer The Sound's first LP, Jeopardy, over Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures, but I won't really get into all of that. The song is urgent; not overly complex; you can feel every word delivered; and it has one of the simplest, catchiest synth hooks.
And Also the Trees, "Shrine," from And Also the Trees (Reflex, 1984)
Such a weird band. I'm pretty sure that Lol from The Cure recorded this band, but don't quote me on that. Almost classical at times, and driven by vocals that are essentially poetry over music, this list would be incomplete without And Also the Trees. I really enjoy the way all the music kind of cuts in and out of itself in this one. The guitars, the drums, the synths, they line up during the verses but during the bridges everything is kind of discordant and it is to die for.
Screaming for Emily, "Just a Lie," from Grey the Sky (Permanent Rave, 1986)
To be honest, I do not know very much about this band other than they rule. They somehow achieve a perfect blend of being synth-driven, tribal, and catchy at the same time. Definitely a band worth checking out.
Asylum Party, "Play Alone," from Borderline (Lively Art, 1989)
I know I'm cheating here, "Play Alone" is not really a post-punk song, nor is Asylum Party a post-punk band, but I feel like if this song wasn't included on this list I'd be cheating anyone who is skimming it. Hands down one of the best coldwave songs by arguably one of the most influential bands in the genre.