Buzzcocks

Buzzcocks (Merge)

For those who like to argue about the evolution of British punk rock, several bands always top the list of originators: the Sex Pistols (duh?), the Clash and the Buzzcocks. The Sex Pistols self-destructed and the Clash went the way of American radio, while the Buzzcocks flew under the radar, pumping out three albums before dissolving in 1981. With a new rhythm section, the Buzzcocks reemerged suddenly in 1993 with their first album in 14 years.

Now, 25 years after they got their start in Manchester, the Buzzcocks still find themselves commanding the pop-punk genre. Announcing itself without pretense, the group's new album is eponymous, as if to say, "See, I told you they were still around." What's striking about the disc is that it pulls off an intensity that you might expect to be lost on middle-aged punkers, and it also demonstrates how the Buzzcocks deftly move between fluffy pop-punk and the menacing origins of the genre.

The Buzzcocks haven't redefined anything with their latest effort, but the album's power and density is a testament to the energizing effect a pithy pop tune such as "Keep On" generates -- there are thousands of bands that would sell their kid sister to a sweatshop for just one song as tight as "Keep On." The Buzzcocks, mind you, have accumulated hundreds of such songs, always finding a tight little pocket from which to project their vitriol, resulting in concentrated tracks that feed off each other as their album progresses. And the latest is no exception.

 
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