There’s bands. There’s good bands. There’s great bands. And then … Buzzcocks.
Progenitors of ‘indie’ when releasing the Spiral Scratch Ep (‘Boredom’, ‘Time’s Up’) in 1977 and then (albeit) fleetingly infiltrating the pop airwaves (1978 – 1981) they dominated the punk/post-punk/pop-punk boundaries with everyday vignettes of habitual onanism (Orgasm Addict), spurned affection (again) (Ever fallen in love with someone (You shouldn’t’ve) and capturing those moments of the haphazard, the minutiae of life (Something’s Gone Wrong Again) and that’s just a snapshot.
Adored by many including Pixie Black Francis and famed-suicidee Kurt Cobain their influence prevails today in bo-no-hopers like Pete Doherty. You know all that stuff you’ve read about, heard about and thought in the words of Facejacker’s Ray Fakadakis ‘That’s amaaaayzin’? Well, Buzzcocks wrote most of if not all of it. ‘Nuff said. That said, it’s 8 years since their last release ‘Flat pack Philosophy’ (yet another pertinent riposte to ‘our’ hastily and shakily assembled world) and now they’re here to show you ‘The Way’.
‘Cock Pete Shelley pioneer of the non-gender specific protagonist (subsequently adopted by such luminaries as Morrissey) possesses one of rock’s finest yearning yelps which it pains me to admit is in dire need of some lozenges on a lot of this album. ‘Cock Steve Diggle, as gruff as ever and the dapperest dapper you’ll ever feast your eyes on, his perma-growl and chainsaw chords in full evidence throughout.
‘People are strange machines’ resumes the band’s frequent fascination with technology as always wrapped up in wry observations. Sonically it evokes Bowie’s ‘Scary Monsters, Super Creeps’. Diggle deploys Buzzcocks’ idiosyncratic ‘uh-ohs and wha-hoes’ and do you know what they’re right, people are strange machines. God knows, we’ve all met enough. Brilliant riffage; simple and always effective.
Its essence evokes Shelley’s 1981 electro-classic ‘Homosapien’; just over three minutes of existential outsiderdom surrounded by future-now-sounds all the while pointing out the obvious statement, ‘Well, we’re all human, aren’t we?’ with bare rhetoric involved. And still it goes over their heads …
Title track ‘The Way highlights how Shelley’s laconic delivery has withered through time and age, yet, the emotion, the passion, his meaning remains, ‘the way he/you was, is not the way you were’ total ambiguity as ever.
‘Virtually Real’ casts and eye on the networked system we are privy to and subjected with, the pervasive and invasive ‘world’ of ‘social media, Twitterati, flash mobs, profile updated, it’s complicated, so tell me how do you feel?’ A world of assumed and presumed identities, subterfuge and schizophrenia the song has thumping bass and is doomy, gloomy and wary; classic Buzzcocks. It comes across as ‘Love Bites’ ‘Real World’ for the post-millennial milieu.
‘Saving yourself’ is where the Seattle sound emanates from however with more humour and less ‘Oh, why did the American Dream stop the minute I opened me eyes in the early hours of the day’ Go figure. Do the math.
Still showing the way forward this album is timely reminder of the potency of short, sharp arias, both lyrically and musically intact Buzzcocks are back with a long-player that fits seamlessly into their canon.