Buzzcocks – The Way (Album Review)

Buzzcocks – The Way (Album Review)

buzzcocks prom

Founded in Bolton, England, in 1976 by Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto, Buzzcocks have become known as one of  Punk Rock history’s most adored acts. Through some break-ups and reunions the band has released nine full-length studio albums, beginning with 1978’s Another Music in a Different Kitchen. The band’s oldest and most recognizable songs include “Orgasm Addict,” “I Don’t Mind,” and “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve).” The current Buzzcock lineup consists of longtime members Shelley (guitar/vocals) and Steve Diggle (guitar/vocals), along with Chris Remmington (bass) and Danny Farrant (drums).

One of the pioneers of Punk music, they have now released their newest album entitled The Way, eight years after its predecessor, 2006’s Flat-Pack Philosophy. Despite being comprised of new materials, the band’s latest offering has the power to take its listeners back to their authentic Punk sound. The band seems to have accomplished this by naturally maintaining the distinct sonic characteristics of their music—enough dirtiness and sharpness of the rhythm guitars, simple yet infectious guitar adlibs, steady basslines, straightforward but not too aggressive drumbeats, and the combination of Shelley’s mid-pitched and melody-oriented lead vocals and Diggle’s ’60s Pop influenced backing vocals. This has become the band’s trademark vocal styling since co-founding member and original vocalist Howard Devoto left the group in 1977, very early in the group’s history.

Released in November 2014 via 1-2-3-4 Records, The Way opens with the catchy “Keep on Believing,” whose title alone is a perfect call for the band’s longtime fans. The melody of “People Are Strange Machines” is reminiscent of The Ramones, whereas “The Way” is a blend of Sex Pistols-like vocals and The Clash-esque grooves. “In the Back” has a memorable opening guitar hook, and the timbre of the vocals will remind fans of the New Wave sound of The Psychedelic Furs. “Virtually Real” has a sinister-sounding introductory interlude whose dark and sinister mood that is maintained throughout the song. “Chasing Rainbows/Modern Times” will not be out of place on a playlist that includes The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “Chinese Rock” and Public Image Ltd.’s “Open and Revolving.” The second-to-the-last song, “It’s Not You,” will interest fans of ’90s Alternative Rock who are familiar with the band Senseless Things. Finally, the tenth and last track, “Saving Yourself,” is a fitting album closer—introspective lyrics, relatively slower tempo, and relaxed drum and rhythm section.

The Way is a solid and thick-sounding collection of typically short songs—a fullness afforded by the current technology and techniques in recording. This is perhaps the only primary thing that sets it apart from the band’s early albums, whose contents were unsurprisingly tinny-sounding. After all, the tinny sound is a marked quality of many Punk albums released in the 1970s through the early ’80s. But it should not be regarded as an essential component of Punk (or any genre of music, for that matter), unless the band is specifically aiming for a low-fidelity sound production—fine examples would be some of the works of Young Marble Giants, Pavement, and Guided by Voices. Many Punk Rock purists might see the full and tight sound of the new Buzzcocks album as a sellout; however, to listeners who could hear the beauty of music way beyond such trivial and shallow complaints, The Way is an archetypal Punk album. It proudly carries not only the Pop sensibilities and indomitable spirit of old Buzzcocks but also the essence of a classic Punk Rock gambit. The Way is a worthy addition to the band’s discography and to the archives of the entire Punk genre. CrypticRock gives this album 4 out of 5 stars.

1-2-3-4 Records

Like the in-depth, diverse coverage of Cryptic Rock? Help us in support to keep the magazine going strong for years to come with a small donation.
aLfie vera mella
[email protected]

Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

No Comments

Post A Comment

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons