Charlie made no efforts to hide the fact he really preferred harder, grittier rock music, and eventually he found himself leaving Busted to go his own way with FIGHTSTAR, who to their credit more than held their own on the UK alternative scene. This was in 2005, and while Charlie was opening up pits at underground rock venues…Matt became the king of the jungle and dropped an honestly really good solo album, while James took all of the knob jokes ever written with SON OF DORK (Dork being a slang term for penis, as well as being a socially inept person…he was just one big socially inept penis). However, as the saying goes; never say never, and it would only be a matter of time before there would be a reunion…granted it would take eleven years, but the boys in Busted returned in 2016 with the album “Night Driver”. Adopting a more mature musical approach, it wasn’t QUITE like having Busted back as we remembered them, but, hopefully they can make up for that on “Half Way There”, their brand new album for 2019. The question is; where are they heading?
We open up with “Nineties” and thematically at least it sets the tone for the entire record; this is an album of deep reflection, of reminiscing and truthfully it’s really touching and relatable. Singing of fond memories; they mention ditching school and listening to SMASHING PUMPKINS and playing guitar to OASIS…even transitioning from NIRVANA into a ‘na-nana-na-nana” vocal pre-chorus. For many in their age group it hits home and makes you think how times have changed, and it’s a sweet, nostalgic track. Speaking of, “Nostalgia” sums things up wonderfully…with its up-beat, positive guitar tones and subtle FOO FIGHTERS vibe this questions their very ethos…lyrics like “Do I even want you back?” seemingly questioning their very existence as a band, in a self-aware manner that is, given the period of absence, why risk tarnishing their legacy? Why risk it all for a cash-grab per se? Also in a seemingly apropos manner its Charlie repeating the line “I was doing just fine”…as if to suggest did this NEED to happen at all? This is deep stuff given the joviality of the track itself, but brilliantly executed.
The theme continues with the likes of “Reunion” which is another album highlight and more of the recognisable up-beat guitar driven pop…and really it’s quite passive-aggressive in ways. Masked under a school reunion shtick, they subtly hint at how things have turned out and how things may or may not have happened differently and there’s traces of melancholia layered within another entertaining pop-rock track; to be fair their song-writing is on point. “All My Friends” takes on a similar approach showcasing the differentiation between us and them, taken in context over the years and how they have grown as people, and in ways the title track speaking of being halfway to obscurity, hinting at the flame only burning for so long, before “It Happens” takes you on another nostalgic journey going over the lads background and how you should never give up on your dreams…their hard work and success story laid bare to inspire future musicians to carry the torch so to speak, ending the album on a wonderfully poignant note.
To be fair, Busted were never renowned for being poets or philosophical from a musical or even lyrical perspective, but in their later years it’s clear they are very self-aware and recognise that times have changed. Despite being a new, fresh album, the feeling is very much one of remembrance and former glories. That’s not to say that any of this new material is irrelevant by any means, they’ve touched on a lot of deep personal issues here…the real question is does it even matter in this day and age? The answer is yes…if Busted were to truly call it a day following this, there would be absolutely no complaints and that’s not a derogatory comment. They’ve been there, they played the arena’s, they sold the albums, they made it…but they changed as people…and while looking back may make you proud of certain accomplishments, it shouldn’t define them. Nostalgia is one thing, but credibility is more important, and I think, given the vibe from this album, it’s something Busted recognise. Does it have the hits of their early years? No…does the album however capture everything it needs to, to provide closure? Absofuckinglutely. If this is Busted’s swan-song, then credit to them, what a way to go out, this is a really well executed album. It might be called “Half Way There”, but I think Busted have come full circle, and they can go out with their heads held high.