Shopping follow up their self-released debut album with Why Choose, on FatCat. The band’s sound comes from a rich lineage of angular post-punk, which is not to say they don’t sound fresh. You can alternately thrash and dance to their business, good stuff. If you get hold of the limited first pressing of the LP version, the vinyl will be clear!
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A new Shopping album: wherein I put my feet up on the table, showing complete disregard for our office’s distinct lack of clean, and bop my head like David Byrne if he were more cyborg. Tenseless post-punks, Shopping reference the past participle of their genre but make it sound contemporary, occasionally futurist, mostly just its own thing. Formed of three traditional players -- guitarist, bassist and drummer, each exchanging vocal snark as and when -- they take their punk looseness and button it up with rigid, unwavering rhythms. Primer for newcomers: it sounds great. Primer for fans: it still sounds great.
I simply need you to know this album is good; it’s one of those. A whole dinner party’s worth of hooks are spread across this record, be they in good lounge jams that slither (“Time Wasted”) or dimly lit dance numbers, like the unimpeachable “Straight Lines”, which matches fast-talking vocals against seamless guitar work -- riffs oscillate like electricity rattling nervous through wires, always snapping stupendously into a chord. The band exchange vocals perfectly, foregrounding in certain moments as others chant like supporting characters; “Why Wait?” continues to let riffs sprawl through a compact rhythm as band members pose each other questions and then dismiss them monotonously. It’s punchy music, but it also sounds pre-ordained; you’re never in doubt as to where these songs will go, but you’re always a little surprised by them.
There is, and I can’t stress this enough, the perfect amount of cowbell. Not many post-punkers get that one right (or get it all, for that matter), but consider it a signal of intent from a band who can often take their songs into dark recesses (like the ominously throwback bassline creeping in and out of “Sinking Feeling”): this is a good time. If you’ve ever seen Shopping live, you’ll know how much joy they take in performing their music: ‘Why Choose’ spreads the emotional wealth.
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