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.
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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.