The Buzzcocks

Buzzcocks (Merge)

Although they were somewhat obscure in America during the original days of punk, the Buzzcocks' esteem among the faithful has steadily risen, and the band now ranks right up alongside the Ramones, Sex Pistols, and Wire as punk's founding fathers. This new self-titled album, featuring original members Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle, will do little to further this enshrinement, however.

Following a fine comeback album four years ago in the form of Modern (which, oddly enough, saw the band employing "new wave" textures that harked back to its original era), Buzzcocks constitutes an attempt to return to a more scaled-down style. For some reason, the Buzzcocks believe bracing cadences and metallic excess are a desirable effect, when their forte was always the melody-driven mid-tempo jounce of stuff like "Ever Fallen in Love?" and "You Say You Don't Love Me." On "Driving You Insane," the band borrows the riff from "19th Nervous Breakdown" before twisting into another insipid bout of thrashing. More like a debut from some lame power-pop aggregation than the next chapter in a great band's career, this faceless collection begs one to evoke the cruel but sometimes necessary lament: "Give it up, guys!"