Published Nov 17, 2014For their ninth studio record, revered English punk outfit Buzzcocks turned to their fans to fund the project through a PledgeMusic campaign. The label-free move is an interesting one, considering their importance in the emergence of pop-punk and independent labels over a nearly 30-year career. Label or no, The Way is very much a record for the dedicated Buzzcocks fan, as opposed to someone approaching it with fleeting interest.
Musically, most tracks on the disc have enough drive to make listeners briefly forget how old the aging punks actually are. The last thing that the songwriting team of Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle wants to do is slow down, evidenced by the feverish stomp-clap of "Third Dimension" and decisive power of "It's Not You." This vigour courses throughout the record, but the age of the group becomes evident in the lyrics. Uptempo surf rocker "Virtually Real" finds the band's attempt at tongue-in-cheek writing cheapened by the mention of lolcats, Shiba Inu dogs and other references to ubiquitous meme culture all in the span of about two lines. It doesn't quite have the same jokey effect as "Orgasm Addict" (a track that Shelley now says makes him cringe), but the short, sweet The Way packs enough pop-tinged punk energy and emotion to satisfy Buzzcocks faithful, at least. (Independent)