Despite the punk revival of the '90s, the Buzzcocks operated somewhat under the radar. They were an undeniable influence on many bands, including the chart-topping crossovers Green Day, but they were rarely cited as such, and even though a reunited incarnation of the group was surprisingly strong, their albums and concerts largely went unnoticed.
Such was the case for their 1999 album for Go Kart, Modern.
The title isn't entirely in jest -- the group tests out some electronics and drum machines, particularly on Steve Diggle's material. These experiments aren't entirely successful, sounding a little forced. Consequently, Diggle's songs sound a little weaker than Pete Shelley's, but when he concentrates on straight-ahead pop-punk -- as he does on "Turn of the Screw" -- the results are quite good. Shelley pretty much follows the straight and narrow throughout Modern, turning in catchy, tightly written punk and pop songs. There are no surprises among his songs, but they're strong and reliable -- good tunes performed with energy by the band.
Admittedly, this a minor triumph and nobody will confuse Modern with Singles Going Steady, but the Buzzcocks not only sound better than any of their punk peers on Modern, they sound better than most of the young punk revivalists. And at the very least, that's somewhat noteworthy.