Review Summary: The Buzzcocks third full-length release hooks, intrigues, and experiments for the listener, resulting in an outstanding effort.
Often in the punk genre, bands make the error of releasing a similar album than they did before, which is either well received by fans and critics or rejected. In 1979, The Clash developed their most ambitious and heralded effort “London Calling,” in which to this day is considered one of the greatest albums of all-time. “London Calling” was experimental, extremely varied, and absolutely brilliant. The Buzzcocks’ third studio album, “A Different Kind of Tension” is a much more determined and diverse effort than its predecessors, and the result is an outstanding record. The Buzzcocks are one of the most significant and influential punk bands of all-time; their pop-hooks, quirky vocals, and blistering leads translated exceptionally well into the late 1970’s punk scene.
This 1979 release, “A Different Kind of Tension” is arguably The Buzzcocks’ most experimental and intriguing record, for expansion, variation styles, and vocal effects are characterized here. Those expecting Pete Shelley’s high and idiosyncratic vocals on every track were thrown for a loop on this album. Guitarist Steve Diggle offers a contrasting vocal style on a few tracks, most notably Sitting Round at Home
. This song in particular Diggle takes on lead singing and delivers much lower, electronic-infused vocals. This type of experimentation may have seemed out of place on the band’s previous records, but is an indication that “A Different Kind of Tension,” will live up to its title. Diggle’s vocals again make an appearance on A Different Kind of Tension
, in which serve as a strange complementary method to Shelley’s typical high-pitched singing. The electronic effect is fully-permeated into Diggle’s voice, and it is almost impossible to understand his utterances of “Be modest, be spontaneous, spend money.” Other than vocals, Diggle presents an outlandish sound with his leads, which accompany the track’s thunderous riff beautifully. Previous song Hollow Inside
may be equally as brilliant due to the fact that it begins like many Buzzcocks songs, but carries on for almost five minutes. Shelley’s tormented vocals are instrumental in the track’s virtuosity, “Hollow inside, why I was hollow inside.”
Not to say that “A Different Kind of Tension” is entirely different, for opener Paradise
is vintage Buzzcocks. Their fiery and characteristic manner is highlighted here, and Paradise
is truly an outstanding pop-punk song. You Know You Can’t Help It
is somewhat similar to the opener, it’s upbeat nature and humorous lyrics define the Buzzcocks thoroughly. “You know you can't help it getting into her, you know you can't help it 'cos she's your world, you know you can't help that sex is good, you know you can't help it you just can't help it!” Diggle doesn’t disappoint to provide some tremendous guitar work on the record, Raison D’etre
may be one of his strongest solo performances with the band, wailing and bending his way through the final minutes of the song.
Closer I Believe
is arguably the most ambitious affair the band has ever developed, clocking in at over seven minutes and growing to a powerful climax. In the final minutes of I Believe
, Shelley convincingly repeats “There is no love in this world in this world anymore.” This is obviously not the most sophisticated track ever created, but basically reveals that The Buzzcocks are not satisfied with writing the typical two or three minute punk songs. A great deal of “A Different Kind of Tension” serves this purpose, and the title essentially discloses that the album is indeed “different.” This particular record may not be as grandiose or sophisticated as “London Calling,” but is an indication that The Buzzcocks are not afraid to go out of the box.
You Know You Can’t Help It
A Different Kind of Tension