"An exceptional debut album from perhaps the most ferocious new punk band on the scene": meet Problem Patterns, your new favourite band

Praised by both Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna and former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins, Problem Patterns deliver a modern punk classic with Blouse Club

Problem Patterns Blouse Club
(Image: © Alcopop! Records)

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Northern Ireland has always had a special relationship with punk music. The original 1977 movement gave young people a place away from the horrific sectarian conflict that was taking place around them, and inspired homegrown bands such as Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones, Rudi and more. Punk was both a form of escapism and a place to reject violence. Today, our government is consistently more unstable than those in neighbouring countries, and always a few years behind in granting basic rights to women and LGBTQ+ people. Our rage is specific to us, and so our punk music is uniquely cathartic.

Belfast-based DIY feminist queer-punk quartet Problem Patterns are the perfect manifestation of this singular spirit, and their debut album Blouse Club might well be the most fiercely outspoken, no-holds-barred punk album of the year.

Throughout the album, they take on all of the inequalities plaguing Northern Ireland and beyond. Starting out with the heart-racing power of Y.A.W with the war cry “A woman’s worth should not come down / To how much you wanna fuck her”. Lesbo 3000 is a screaming reclamation of homophobic slurs, taking a verbal weapon and turning it towards the oppressor. TERFs Out condemns transphobia with similarly intense passion, an anthem that plainly defends trans rights and slams exclusionary feminism.

The quartet - Ciara King, Beverley Boal, Bethany Crooks and Alanah Smith - also face lesser-explored topics head-on. Poverty Tourist makes razor-sharp observations like “You bought out the stock at Oxfam / To cut it up and make a profit”, a DIY punk take on Pulp’s Common People. Who Do We Not Save draws attention to a healthcare system on the brink of collapse in Northern Ireland (where waiting lists are much longer than anywhere else in the UK). Amidst the rage towards corrupt (or largely absent) governments, there is still an overwhelming sense of community and solidarity at the heart of these lyrics.

Blouse Club has its lighter moments, too. Pity Bra tells the story of a Sleater-Kinney concert in Dublin where a Problem Patterns t-shirt was hurled at the stage, hitting riot-grrrl legend Corin Tucker right in the head. It pays tribute to the musicians that influenced them while showcasing what a special band they are in their own right. This is a band who aren’t afraid to break the punk mould and subvert expectations - for example,  don’t have a set front-person, often swapping roles between songs.

Blouse Club is an exceptional debut album from perhaps the most ferocious new punk band on the scene right now. Problem Patterns’ ferocity is unmatched and inspirational, and their passion, anger and gut-punching delivery will remind you why you fell in love with punk in the first place.

Freelance writer, Louder

In addition to contributing to Louder, Vicky writes for The Line of Best Fit, Gigwise, New Noise Magazine and more.