When you think of “punk”, what do you think of? Speed? Sneering attitude? Sloppy playing? Sheer volume?
While all those things can play a role, one thing that sometimes gets overlooked is how punk’s impetus to strip things down can accentuate the beauty of melody. For all their near-inhuman velocity and faux-cretinism, the Ramones were famously big fans of Brian Wilson.
It’s not that speed and volume can’t play a role – but what those elements can do, in the hands of a truly gifted songwriter, is force them to present their song’s melody in its most elemental, direct form. Mostly-short melodic lines, with few vocal grace notes, tightly circling the theme; a burst of pop in perfect miniature, delivered in a fast, precise series of staccato strikes. Nothing but naked earworm, presented without ornamentation, or even any need for elaboration.
And when the band is on (and criminey, the Buzzcocks and especially Hüsker Dü – one of the all-time great rock trios – were on), the overall effect is to present hooks that are dense and diamond-sharp; song as sandblaster, shooting sugar straight to your synapses.