Are you shopping for Valentine’s Day gifts? Do you need something for your lover who hates everything played on commercial radio, or your husband who loves 80’s music, or your wife who enjoys funk and dance rock, or yourself? Let me save you some time: Buy them The Official Body by Shopping.
Consisting of just three members (Rachel Aggs – guitar and vocals, Billy Easter – bass and vocals, Andrew Milk – drums and vocals), Shopping’s third full-length is the grooviest post-punk album I’ve heard all year. The opener, “The Hype” (which you’d better believe with this band), begins with a Bow Wow Wow-like drum count before the three of them put down a groove that instantly gets you moving. I love their vocals bounce off each other like they took lessons from the B-52’s.
“Wild Child” (a song about keeping up appearances) continues the dance grooves (and Easter’s killer bass work), but brings in some subtle synths into the mix. The use of synths is frequent throughout the record and brings even more of a dance-punk feel to the album. Aggs’ guitar on “Asking for a Friend” is bouncy and tight, which is difficult to pull off, but she seems to do it with ease. “Suddenly Gone” is a sharp song about Aggs’ struggles of being black and queer in an industry dominated by straight white dudes.
Milk sings about losing one’s sense of self on “Shave Your Head” while Aggs’ guitar chatters over his typewriter-like beats. The synth bass on “Discover” is a bit jarring at first, but I love the darkness it brings to a song about being desperate for attention. “Control Yourself,” despite its title, will get your toes tapping before you realize it (thanks in large part to Milk’s wicked beat). I also love the chorus of “I know what I like, and I like what I know.” It sums up the (closed) mindset of many these days.
Aggs’ guitar work on “My Dad’s a Dancer” is a bit Middle Eastern and her vocals about bigotry (i.e., “Would you like me if I looked like you?”) are sharp as a knife. “New Values” begins with synth bass that reminds me of weird 1990’s 16-bit video games, but Easter’s vocals are solidly in the modern world. “Overtime” seamlessly blends the synths and the traditional instruments as it builds in tempo toward an exhilarating finish to the record.
I’ve been on a post-punk kick all year, and The Official Body is a great kick-off to 2018 for me and the genre. Don’t let it slip by you.
Keep your mind open.
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