It was 1993, and I was 13 when all of my friends in Olympia went punk, forsaking all other music for Fugazi (the sell-outs) and Minor Threat (the purists). Everyone's hair vanished beneath bad dye jobs, spikes suddenly grew from their clothes, and safety pins sprouted from their flesh. This was better than Nirvana, this was dangerous! I had to get in on this action, make myself over. My first stop: the library. I stole their copy of Never Mind The Bollocks, but a friend stole it from me before I could listen to it. The only other album I could find which conjured up visions of "cred" was the Buzzcocks' Love Bites.
The tape entered my Walkman and I laid back, safe in my headphones. The music was weirdly familiar, like it was made with me specifically in mind. This wasn't punk I had to pretend to like; they weren't hiding lack of skills behind speed and noise. This was pop too perfect to be more than three minutes long.
Yes, the lead singer's voice was faggy, and his pronouns were gender-neutral. He's just British, I told myself. I wasn't embarrassed. The Buzzcocks were a solitary utopia, a fellow bedroom cowboy's house in another time and place for me to rest in. The album was damp with repressed adolescent sexuality. The songs were all projections of a future less stifling than the present. Listening to Love Bites was entering an adolescent stasis where no emotion was shameful and no expression was too camp. I was free. There was no pretense and no posturing. This was the antithesis of the Olympia punk world.
I played my acquisition for my friends, thinking they might respect its obscurity and seminal date of birth (1977, the year that punk broke), but they just laughed, called it faggot music. It got turned off after the second song and replaced with more Minor Threat. I stopped speaking to them. For the rest of 1993, the Buzzcocks were my best friends.