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Homosapien

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Album Review

Homosapien was a super-sad event upon its release in 1981. Buzzcocks fans were aware that the songs were originally intended for the band's fourth LP (even though some, such as the underground hit title track, had been composed before the band began) — a new work that was set to continue the intriguing, strange, yet powerful and incredible direction the group had taken on side two of late-1979's A Different Kind of Tension, and its three (final) singles recorded in 1980. However, as Shelley settled into London's Genetic studios with producer Martin Rushent to demo these tunes, something unexpected happened. Shelley and Rushent fell in love with the cheesier, one-man-and-a-boop-beep-boop drum machine demos in a time when electro-pop disco was taking over. Tired of the group's sorry financial state, Shelley abruptly disbanded the band via an insensitive lawyers' letter mailed to his bandmates. Homosapien's release followed a few months later, before his fans' shock had dissipated. It can now be listened to in a different light than the inconsolably sad emotions that originally surrounded it. Despite the utterly ridiculous, aforementioned "drum" sound, it's the one Shelley solo effort worth investigating. Unlike XL1 and Heaven and the Sea, the wry, lovelorn pop songwriting inspiration is still with him. But more importantly, this is the only attempt by Shelley to retain the compressed, tight, hard production and vocals of his band work, despite the new genre and the predominance of a 12-string acoustic in favor of the old buzzsaw. More dance-pop than rock, Homosapien still straddles both fences enough to interest lovers of both genres. [Note: Five bonus tracks from XL1 are tacked on the Razor & Tie reissue, where the two Homosapien B-sides, "Keats' Song" and "Maxine," would have made more sense.]

Biography

Born: 17 April 1955 in Leigh, Lancashire, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Pete Shelley, the leader of the seminal punk band the Buzzcocks, actually had recorded a solo album in 1974, two years before the Buzzcocks formed. Released in 1979, Sky Yen was a collection of electronic music that didn't sound much like his full-time band's blistering guitar pop, yet it did contain the roots of his solo career. After the Buzzcocks disbanded in 1981, Shelley began a solo career which incorporated the electronic experimentations of Sky Yen with the pop sensibilities of his punk singles....
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Homosapien, Pete Shelley
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