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2 September 2010

Buzzcocks - 'A Different Kind of Tension' (I.R.S.)

The Buzzcocks are certainly a great singles band but their albums are probably just as good. I admit that I rarely pull this one out, except I somehow keep thinking this is the one with 'Moving Away from the Pulsebeat' (it's not -- I don't have that one). It does have 'I Believe' which is another 7-minute tune, because this is the Buzzcocks at the turn of decade, trying to branch out and explore Shelley's long-standing interest in Krautrock, electronic music, etc. Or at least we have rumblings of that, if not an abrupt direction change. He does deliver some 'atmospheric keyboards' here but repetition is still the prime directive. Side A (or 'The Rose on the Chocolate Box', as the label subtitles it) finds three Steve Diggle tunes, including the beautiful 'Mad Mad Judy' which climaxes with a brilliantly psychedelic riff-feast. Side B (or 'The Thorn Underneath that Rose') has the cryptic 'Money' which seems to be about changes people go through, but throws it's hands up in disgust under a strangely classic rock-sounding riff. 'Hollow Inside' is a minor key meandering, though actually quite focused. If there's one point where I think A Different Kind of Tension fails, it's the title track. This is a conceptual song attempting to pair commands in opposition to one another, and has a stupid vocoder sound (which probably sounded awesome at the time). But no fault to Shelley for trying; it's 'I Believe' where he turns the lens inward and spills things all over the vinyl. Fair enough -- I appreciate the changes. It's 1980, after all -- instead of 'Boredom' and 'What Do I Get?' , Shelley waxes patience in 'You Say You Don't Love Me' and 'I Don't Know What to Do With My Life'. Deep philosophy yeah, but didn't everyone confront Thatcherism in their own way? But as his voice rings out at the end, "It... my... life!"

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