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Album Review

Buzzkunst isn't an attempt by middle-aged punk trailblazers to re-investigate the glory of their youth and reflect upon it. Nor is it an effort on the part of Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley — the two founding members of Buzzcocks — to keep up with the kids, to stay relevant, to cash in. A lengthy buzz line conveying the record's gist might go something like this: "14 logical extensions of Shelley's electronics-slanted solo work circa Homosapien and Devoto's scythe sharp lyrics and cutting vocals circa his entire career, filtered through updates on the experimental pop electronics of the Art of Noise, early Human League, Propaganda, and perhaps mid-'80s Shriekback." Although it helps to have a knowledge of this duo's recorded histories, there are hints at the past but no explicit references in Buzzkunst. Shelley, who apparently has composed all the music here (most of which is computer-based), does the proper thing by giving Devoto all the space required to spew his venom. The vocalist takes center stage on all the vocal numbers, as he should, while Shelley claims the spotlight on a handful of instrumentals that batter, pummel, grind, dive-bomb, and slither with mechanical rhythms, all manner of looped screwball FX, and a few nasty squalls of guitar. To be frank, Shelley's arrangements are chintzy every now and then and sometimes sound as if they were plucked from an action-packed television program featuring "edgy electronica" as the background music. As for Devoto, well, he's in top form — as if he never went back to the nowhere he came from. Just to hear that ageless voice deal out phrases like, "Oh my manicure/Oh my pedicure/My peace of mind/My vomit/Ours is the land of the milk and the honey/We'd better bomb it," is something to be extremely happy about. ShelleyDevoto is obviously having a blast, and while Buzzkunst is no thundering masterpiece, the blast is not at listeners' expense.


Formed: 2000

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s

Between the years 1976 and 2000 -- years that bridge the gap in time from Howard Devoto's departure from Buzzcocks to the year in which Devoto and fellow Buzzcocks founder Pete Shelley began working together for a second time -- Shelley, as it is well-known, continued with Buzzcocks on through the next century with a breakup period that lasted most of the '80s. He also made some solo records and was involved with a short-lived band called Zip. Devoto formed Magazine after parting ways with Shelley...
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Buzzkunst, Shelleydevoto
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