"Buzzcut Season" was written by Lorde (credited under her birth-name Ella Yelich-O'Connor) and Joel Little, and was produced and mixed by Little. Similar to other songs from the album Pure Heroine, "Buzzcut Season" was recorded at Golden Age Studios in Auckland. On 23 September 2013, the track was released as a digital download promotional single on iTunes Stores by Universal Music New Zealand.
Composition and writing
"Buzzcut Season" draws inspirations from tropical music, and features "light percussive snaps" and "trickling xylophone" instrumentation. Lyrically, the song talks about the "ridiculousness of modern life." Sammy Maine from the website Drowned in Sound commented that the song was a "heartbreaking comment on our war-driven way of life." She pointed out the lyrics "Explosions on TV and all the girls with heads inside a dream" against M.I.A.'s pop-reggae musical style. Gaby Whitehill from Gigwise website called the song a "melancholy affair" and praised the "epic piano laden beat combined with the 16-year-old's haunting vocals."
Jason Lipshutz from Billboard praised the song's production and Lorde's vocal delivery. Writer Michelle Pitiris for Australian magazine Vulture chose "Buzzcut Season" as a highlight from Pure Heroine and compared its sound to Air. Idolator editor Mike Wass labelled it "another twinkling postcard from the streets of Auckland" but felt that it failed to "capture the attention" like "400 Lux" or "Tennis Court", two other songs from the album.
"Buzzcut Season" spent five weeks on the Australian ARIA Streaming Tracks chart, peaking at number thirty-eight. It also reached number 29 on the US Hot Rock Songs. In New Zealand, "Buzzcut Season" peaked at number 18 on the New Zealand National Singles chart, which lists the best-performing singles by New Zealand artists in the country.
On 3 October 2013, the singer held a concert at the Warsaw Venue in Brooklyn and performed the song among other tracks from the album. On 12 October 2013, Lorde performed "Buzzcut Season" in Studio Q of CBC. On 13 November 2013, Lorde performed several songs from Pure Heroine during the Late Show with David Letterman to promote the album, including "Buzzcut Season". According to Rolling Stone, the "sparkly-dressed" and "big-haired" singer performed only backed by a drummer and a keyboard player.