Once upon a time, music journo Mikal Gilmore declared that Singles Going Steady, the Buzzcocks' 1979 landmark, "boasted as many pithy hooks and punchy backbeats as Elton John managed in a decade." This fact helps explain why the group, appearing locally alongside the Adored and the Strays, remains unexpectedly credible long after most of their original punk-rock contemporaries petered out or went up in flames. From the beginning, main songwriter Pete Shelley created material that transcended time and trends; beneath the careening guitars of "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" and the ping-ponging synthesizers of solo works such as "Homosapien" were mordant wit, precise arrangements and catchy melodies as hummable today as they were during the Carter or Reagan administrations. The band's 2006 recording, Flat-Pack Philosophy, isn't on the level of these predecessors, but the likes of "I Don't Exist" and "God, What Have I Done" work anyhow because they're built upon the sort of tunesmithing verities that have served Shelley well since he first declared himself an orgasm addict. Fashions come and fashions go, but pithy hooks and punchy backbeats stay in style forever.
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