Album Reviews: Busted (2002) by BustedBefore we Americans get all smug over how bland and derivative the debut album from England’s first true pop-punk band is, let’s take a moment to remember how much punk owes to our neighbors across the Atlantic. Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong doesn’t lapse into a fake cockney accent for nothing. So after a generation of American punk bands trying to sound like the The Clash and The Sex Pistols, it seems only fair that we now have a trio of fresh-faced British lads trying to sound like blink-182.
Busted have turned a lot of heads in their native land with their slick take on catchy, punky power-pop, but in America, where even The Offspring retain some semblance of street cred, their utterly innocuous self-titled debut is likely to go over about as well as a Hootie & the Blowfish set at Lollapalooza. This is California punk-pop by way of the Backstreet Boys, with lots of bright, shiny vocals and soaring, singalong choruses. The guitars, even at their crunchiest, almost feel like an afterthought. Whatever punk edges this band may have are Pro Tooled out of existence.
That being said, this might find a market with the pre-teen set, who just missed the boat on those glory days of 2002 when blink, Avril and Good Charlotte were still churning out pop hooks and hadn’t yet started exploring their dark sides. Songs like “Thunderbirds Are Go” and “Year 3000” unabashedly serve up the sort of goofy sci-fi lyrics that certain adolescent boys will always find cool, and the first single “What I Go to School For,” about a young man’s crush on his 33-year-old teacher, is titillating, PG-rated fun.
The only really great song on the whole record is “Teenage Kicks,” which comes as no surprise since it’s a cover of a classic 1979 anthem by Northern Irish rockers The Undertones. Back then, the punk scene in Great Britain was revolutionary; today, if Busted is any indication, it’s as stale as a day-old scone. - Andy Hermann
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