It’s 2015 and Mark Ronson is almost famous. He’s the DJ and producer responsible for the year’s biggest song, “Uptown Funk,” and yet most people know it primarily as a Bruno Mars track. Such has been the general tenor of Ronson’s career in the States. First emerging as a London-born, New York-raised DJ in the early Aughts, Ronson rose to serious prominence for his 2006 production work on Amy Winehouse’s contemporary classic Back to Black. Across the pond, he’s a huge star, but mainstream American recognition has proven elusive for the well-coiffed scenester.

But before the retro-soul flourishes and ice-cream suit music videos, Ronson made his underwhelming full-length debut in 2003 with Here Comes the Fuzz. The record sold poorly and Elektra dropped him two weeks after its release. Critical reception was lukewarm at best, dismissive at worst. So how does it sound in 2015, in light of Ronson’s newfound status? Surprisingly, it sounds pretty damn good.

Here Comes the Fuzz was in many ways intended to be a time capsule. This is the only record I’ve ever heard that essentially opens with its own trailer, as Ronson raps about his personal story over blended snippets from the album’s A-side. Thankfully, Ronson has since mostly confined himself to behind-the-booth and instrumental responsibilities. Eminem, he ain’t. Ronson preached the gospel of old-school hip-hop and disco, and the record is overflowing with throwback testaments to the sounds of 70s dance clubs and the 80s underground. “High” is a bass-bouncing dance number sporting “Fifth of Beethoven”-aping string interludes. Proper opener “Bluegrass Stain’d” is a vintage-sounding Southern hip-hop barnburner. Best of all, and perhaps the album’s most enduring legacy, is lead single “Ooh Wee,” a seamless rap and dance hybrid featuring Nate Dogg and Ghostface Killah. The track somehow hasn’t aged a day in twelve years and still mingles flawlessly on party playlists between more contemporary acts.

The same can’t quite be said for all of the record’s less superlative material. Here Comes the Fuzz pulls off the neat trick of not only serving as a memorial to older sounds, but also provides the perfect snapshot of white-boy soul in the Cribs era. For people who came of age in the early Aughts like myself, this record will sound instantly familiar, even if you’ve never heard any of its tracks before. “I Suck,” an ill-advised collaboration with Rivers Cuomo, is a scuzzy rocker that seems like the precursor to Weezer’s own “Beverly Hills” just two years later. The Sean Paul-assisted “International Affair” perfectly encapsulates the Caribbean sounds of the likes of Daddy Yankee and Beenie Man that permeated urban radio in 2003. The album’s tracklist reads like a list of 2000s also-rans whose pop careers never entirely took off – remember Tweet? What about Nikka Costa? Daniel Merriweather? Neither do I. However, while not all of Fuzz has aged particularly well, it’s still completely harmless fun, even at its worst.

There’s plenty of hip-hop goodness to be found amongst the more blatant throwbacks. “Diduntdidunt,” boasting the blistering rhymes of Saigon, still receives very regular rotation around my apartment. The title track and “On the Run” give the album’s midsection a blast of hard-rock energy with assistance from Jack White and Mos Def, respectively. And, of course, there’s the token quality cameo from Ronson’s perennial favorite Q-Tip on smooth bossa-rap closer “Tomorrow.”

Is Here Comes the Fuzz a classic? Not particularly, and people who just discovered Ronson via “Uptown Funk” won’t at all recognize what they hear on this LP. But even at its most dated moments, the record is still a solid party soundtrack, especially for fans of music from the early Aughts. Fuzz establishes the throwback M.O. that Ronson’s career has followed ever since, bouncing from sound to sound in a feverish attempt to recreate a past he probably barely remembers, if at all. Interestingly enough, though, the record now serves to recreate a whole new past – that of its own conception.

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