IT'S HARD TO believe the Buzzcocks have been kickin' out the jams since 1976. Years before the bogus and generic term "alternative" was concocted by some coke-riddled A&R slob, there was the Buzzcocks. They play infectious adrenaline-pumped punk-pop with angst-driven lyrics of sex, love, desperation and boredom. French, a blistering live set from Paris in 1995, mixes old classics "Orgasm Addict," "Fast Cars" and "Oh Shit" with new gems by original members Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle. Forget losers like Green Day, Rancid and Offspring: The Buzzcocks are the true originators of punk-fueled, melodic pop nihilism. Along with their American counterparts The Ramones, they're The Beatles of the Blank Generation.
HYPNOTIC SINGLE "COMMON Disaster" signals a return to the earlier Trinity Sessions sound. There's a spidery riff followed up midsong by a low-key but pointed lead from Michael Timmins, and sis Margo hits the slinkiest of blue notes while deliberating upon an unspecified mode of revenge: "He's got a plan to steal my little sister/But I'm not too concerned/'cause I will get him in the end."
Some albums are sleepers; this one's a surrealistic pillow. The title cut's burning guitar solo, the eerie violin lines in "Just Want To See," the creeping dread of misapprehended love in "Lonely Sinking Feeling"--with just the merest of inflections, the group suggests that you don't have to be Robert Johnson to wind up at the crossroads at midnight.
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