Shopping - The Official Body

by Jack Kiser Rating:7 Release Date:2018-01-19
Shopping - The Official Body
Shopping - The Official Body

At some point, harping on political issues can often feel like overkill. We are thoroughly reminded about the plethora of issues that plague the world on an hourly basis. British trio, Shopping, understands this frustration and recent radicalization of the civic spectrum. Shopping’s overall attitude can be summarized as being rhythmically spunky with subtle undertones of trivializing matters many continue to face. These individualistic ambassadors to punctual rock continue to preach about the ongoing struggle to find a place of solace in a continually heterosexual dominated environment. Specifically singer Rachel Aggs, who relays her uphill fight to be accepted as a gay African woman to the stagnant remains of the British music industry. Seemingly so, this electric trio of unconventional misfits amplify their funkiness and their intensity all the same on their third studio record.

Attitudes of post-punk have a wide range of variation. Some are brash and quick, while others can incorporate levels of intricacy and harmony. Shopping plugs multiple characteristics from some of the genre’s greats during the infamous late 70’s/early 80’s buzz-cut delivery phase. Uncanny resemblances can be observed from many of the early female dominated groups like ESG, Au Pairs, and the Bush Tetras. Razor thin bass grooves, terse vocal delivery, and strong rhythmic execution are some of the integral attributes that distinguish these bands. Sometimes there are saxophone excerpts thrown in there, but usually this applies to the “no-wave” groups. The development of Shopping has been more towards the latter, progressing to an even more “quick jab” approach to their musical impalement. Comparatively speaking, their second project, Why Choose, displays more “slacker” syncopation with the guitar and drums. Some of these elements generously bleed over to their third project, but the end product is much more solidified.

Jumping out of the gate early, Billy Easter vigorously sets her bass walk with barbed wire severity. Fitting in with the long list of post-punk legends like Wire and The Fall, the bass practically acts as the anchor, visibly holding down both forms of rhythm. It is only a matter of time before the opening track, “The Hype” bursts into a jovial whirlwind of thrusting dance-punk. The contesting vocal tug-of-war between Aggs and drummer Andrew Milk gives the listener an opportunity to imagine if the band X took a more post-punk disguise. The rolling thunder of bass lines continue on “Suddenly Gone” and seem to be accompanied well with the loose imitation of sliding beach telecaster. “Shave Your Head” effortlessly encapsulates the underlying message to this fierce project. The background shouts from Milk “I can’t tell who you are” ultimately describe the uniform among individuals. What will differentiate an individual when all physical characteristics are made obsolete, leaving only your behavioral identity left to judge. The question remains, what is the Official Body? The correct answer to this should be that there is no official body people deem as the “perfect one.” Moving forward, splats of electronic bass synths and thudding snare are added to tracks “Discover” and “New Values” for rattling fuzziness and piercing amplification. Shades of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs instrumentation can be traced back to the transition period between Fever to Tell and Show Your Bones respective masterpieces. Of course, my favorite composition on this record is “My Dad’s A Dancer,” another breakout tune that could yank any old geezer out of their stationary position and shake their ass. The swallowing rapidness of the beat and the stabbing lyrics from Aggs is like a well-tuned Detroit Cobras track.

The Official Body implements a great amount of intuitive thinking, but adds playful charisma and undeniably groovy hooks to make the mantra less serious. The cutting nature of this record is sharper than it may appear, however, many of the short-spun compositions can be lost with one another. Overall, each one is infectiously unique, but to an outsider, they can be hard to differentiate. Nonetheless, this forceful third effort shows diligent measures of maturity and recognition about the continued division of many who aren’t accepted fairly. Their developed cohesiveness and maturity show with their new ushering of electronica and different elements from their usual repertoire. FatCat Records are lucky to snag these tenacious felines on their growing roster.

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