March 24, 2003

Buzzcocks "Buzzcocks"

The godfathers of punk rock return with their strongest album yet. It's a pleasure, really, to be reminded by those who started it all that they're still going, and still have plenty to say. I mean, really, how can anyone say anything about both punk and indie rock without mentioning the Buzzcocks? Their influence has been duly noted; I dare most any band to write songs as great as "Oh! Shit," "Ever Fallen In Love," or "Orgasm Addict." Like the best artists, Shelley and company made--and still DO make-- punk rock look oh-so easy; just look at any Punk Planet or Maximum Rock & Roll to see how quickly their legacy lives on.

Kicking off with the hard-biting, still lovelorn after all these years "Jerk," it's clear to see that whatever it is that has fuelled Pete Shelley has yet to run dry on him. His words are still biting, jarring, and moving; you'd think that aging would mellow some of the heartbreaks. Buzzcocks certainly shows that this is far from the case; in fact, every one of the songs on the album contain the same one-two knockout punch that was with them from Time's Up. Consistency of product is something to be admired, and both Shelley and guitarist Steve Diggle are in fine, fine form; in fact, "Driving You Insane" may well be one of my favorite songs this year!

It's also quite interesting to note the author of two of Buzzcock's Mr. Howard Devoto! "Stars" and "Lester Sands" both are dark, brooding numbers, and is that Devoto signing in there? I doubt it..but still, one can dream, can't they? These two songs don't really sound anything like the Shelleydevoto collaboration from last year, but Shelley really, really sounds biting, and he's not really singing, he's snarling.
I'd love to hear Devoto come back to making music this hard, this driving, this...intellegent.

I wonder if Pete Shelley and his crew secretly have pictures in closets that age for them, because they still sound fresh, new, and current, even though they've been making music since before many of today's punkers and rockers were born! No matter, though; if they want to make a new record or a hundred new records, they're more than welcome to do so. Buzzcocks is an awesome little record; it doesn't do much to blemish their excellent history. It's a far cry from nostalga when you've deviated very little from your beginning, and while the band may have been around for well over twenty-five years, they've yet to sound like it.

--Joseph Kyle

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