‘That aching in your mouth is just the presence of a hook’ - the best punk album of 2020 finally has a European pressing. Never thought i'd see the day - the original seemed to disappear before most even knew about it. A two piece out of New York with a subtle anarcho/political edge, Straw Man Army loosely fit into that very contemporary understanding of forward-looking punk that still has a cheeky glint in its eye that's tied to Aarght!/Total Control, Lumpy and the MidWest, Uranium Club et al - verbose smart/not smart, taut ‘n’ untame egg/not egg punk with hooks for days. It's the kind of record that seems so effortless it makes you question why so few come along sounding this fully formed. It's easy, surely, right? The tunes are unquestionable and unignorable, but there's two outstanding elements to Age of Exile that elevate it above near all others - drumming that swings as well as relentlessly hits, and the instrumental passages that stretch SMA outside the orthodoxy of punk/post-punk into something a little weirder and mysterious. Instant classic status soon to be assured, and if not, who cares? At least you know about it and that's all that matters.