Pete Shelley's raw and provocative cries have survived four decades of fads, fashions and whims in music, but retained its evergreen quality throughout. The reason that the Buzzcocks have long outlived many bands of their time is probably down to the universal subject matter of their songs. Pangs of regret are driven home with their trademark bolting guitars via 'Wish I Never Loved You' is a brazen lash out at the lack of control over affairs of the heart, sound familiar? Well, if looked at crudely it could be seen as picking at the carcass of 'Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)'. You'd have thought Pete Shelley would have gotten over that girl by now, eh?
A prevailing feature of Buzzcocks albums in the past has been their ability to settle into a groove straight away and stick to it, so you feel like Homer Simpson sat on a couch listening to them sometimes. However, the snappy and futuristic 'Credit' unsettles the applecart with it's delicious parody of modern consumerism. An introduction featuring the sounds of paying for items at those infuriating automated cash machines, precedes Shelley lashing out with natural anger and bemusement;
In love with the never, never
I wish I could get something I really need.'
'Big Brother Wheels' sees the band going all American on us, as the vocals and the guitar hooks capture that Pennywise essence. Now I am getting all confused, are the Buzzcocks becoming influenced by a band that they no doubt influenced themselves? Punk used to be straight forward, didn't it? With this offering the masterful Mancunians do manage grasp the political nettle without squealing. There is a certain swagger that trickles through this fourteen track album to remind you of the glory days, but also the band does enough to imply there their part in punk's parade is not yet ready to be downsized.
When this dropped through the letter box, I admit I thought it must surely be a 'greatest' collection. A new album from the Buzzcocks? Haven't they earnt their pipes and slippers yet? No, and a good job too, as from the opening bars of the title track it's obvious the grandaddies of punk still have fire in their bellies. Guitars are buzzy and distorted courtesy of Steve Diggle and Tony Barber's bass lines meander all over the place, creating patches of melody on a rugged landscape. Vocals switch from staccato fury to melancholic groove and the whole thing is riddled with short, sharp, quality tunes. Listening to Buzzcocks against a backdrop of today's indie-rockers Kaisers, Killers, Hard-Fi et al is an interesting experience. Buzzcocks certainly sound more relevant and contemporary than they would have done a few years back, simply because today's bands owe such a huge debt to those who've gone before. Younger punk rockers listen up, these guys have given us much, much more than just the name of a gameshow. On tour all over the UK this spring, they're a must-see.