Damn it, what's wrong
here? This is Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto, for Chrissake -- why am I not more excited? While Buzzkunst
isn't a patch on the Buzzcocks or Magazine, it's certainly not an unpleasant album -- it's a moody mix of powerful beats, pulsating keyboards, assertive samples and sharp but understated guitars. It's electronic music in much the same way that Wire's mid-eighties "comeback" material was electronic, approaching the trappings of techno with such a pervasively shirty attitude that even the most keyboard-intensive tunes land firmly in the post-punk camp.
There wouldn't be a problem at all if Buzzkunst wasn't such a maddeningly forgettable record. I won't deny tapping my toes to "Deeper" and "Wednesday's Emotional Setup", among others, but ten minutes after the disc finished playing, the only thing I could remember about Buzzkunst was Devoto's unmistakable vocals. Perhaps if the music sounded as unique as he does, this would be a better match, but there's nothing particularly idiosyncratic about these tunes; they could be Bis songs, or White Zombie songs, or even Melissa Etheridge songs, with little or no adjustment. As it stands, then, Buzzkunst is a profound and bewildering disappointment -- musical tofu with an impeccable pedigree.