Shopping continue to juggle social commentary with dance punk on third album ‘The Official Body’. Picking up from where they left off with 2015’s ‘Why Choose’, the London trio’s third is set to dazzle with its minimalist approach to rock music, and its various homages to influences.
Lyrically, ‘The Official Body’ mostly tackles society’s expectations of young adults, and how changes in society may affect us. ‘The Hype’ runs riot with signature lyric “they teach us…procrastination / they teach us…indecision”, presented in a B-52’s-esque male/female call-and-response style. ‘Asking For a Friend’ questions “where will I go to find some peace?” with the tenacity, groove and surf-rock influence of…well…a B-52’s song. The album is also one of political distrust. Not all of the lyrics let us see just how peeved the band are by Brexit and Trump and whatever else, but their secondary intention of making groovy, danceable rock music at least stands tall over any shortcomings.
Always ready to argue like the Au Pairs, with the snappy Englishness of X-Ray Spex, Shopping consistently show off their ability to compel. Fundamentally, they may not be the most inspired of bands, with almost every song kicking off in a familiar way, with foreboding, twangy guitars and bumbling basslines, but they do try to take a few alternate routes. ‘Discover’ is a creepy, synth-bass-driven song with some of the sharpest self-doubting lyrics on the album (“I’m not lonely…I’m fine…”), and ‘New Values’ also packs in a few old school synths, this time of the wub-wubbing variety.
‘Wild Child’ is the standout track, with undeniable energy and the synth flashiness of a new wave hit – it takes away some of the album’s laboriousness with a genuine hyperactive, party vibe, regardless of whether or not the self-appraising use of the term “wild child” is meant to be taken ironically. ‘My Dad’s a Dancer’ is also quite thrilling – hectic, constantly stomping around, it’s the council estate party rocker we’ve all been waiting for.
For the most part, ‘The Official Body’ is simply a continuation of ‘Why Choose’, at its worst turning the band’s gobby London punk from a portrait to a caricature, at its best continuously proving how fiery and determined Shopping really are.
‘The Official Body’ is out now via Fat Cat Records