Release Date: Oct 2, 2015
Record label: Fat Cat
If the original crop of post-punk bands often had trouble sounding vital for more than one album, then the pressure on bands continuing the style is even more intense. Not only do they have to be creative in their own right, but they also have to avoid seeming too derivative of their influences. On their second album, Why Choose, Shopping -- who have gotten the thumbs-up from the likes of ESG and Gang of Four -- build on the grander tradition of post-punk as well as their own approach to it.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Hey remember that time in the early / mid-noughties when loads of bands suddenly started citing Gang of Four as a big influence? I do. It was a really good time. In the space of a few years The Rapture, Liars, Radio 4, Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, The Futureheads and Maximo Park all released debut albums that, like GoF in their prime, scored multiple direct hits on both head and feet.
Through their debut, self-released album ‘Consumer Complaints’ and, maybe more importantly, incessant DIY touring, Shopping have brought themselves to the forefront of the UK DIY scene in the run-up to the release of ‘Why Choose’. Their first album on FatCat starts with ‘Wind Up’, which wastes zero seconds in introducing a harsh post-punk bass sound that goes on to dominate the album. ‘Why Choose’ is constantly instant, and nothing is left to chance or a second listen.
Whenever Shopping are asked whether they’re a political band, they always default to talking about dancing. Any messages in their music are purely a matter of circumstance, they say: of being delivered by a queer woman of color, of being a London DIY band who know what productivity looks like on their own terms. It's not hard to see why they'd want to avoid the political umbrella: when a British band cops to having political motivations, their inability to overhaul the system/write "Ghost Town" Part Two is usually held up as a sign of their failure—in the U.K., at any rate.
Bands like Shopping serve as a reminder that past trends are most welcome when they come from an authentic place. The East London trio captures a youthful vitality that favors the activity of dancing as both social amusement and recreational therapy. Only that theirs emulates the punk-funk hybrid of the late seventies, a time in which it was okay to embrace taut, playful rhythms with political discourse.
The beauty of the late-’70s and early-‘80s post-punk movement was how fluid and all-encompassing it was. At its basic level, the genre was a vibrant, multi-faceted response to punk, which was itself a multi-dimensional reaction to the political, social, and musical status quo. “Post-punk” became an umbrella term describing an astoundingly diverse group of bands — the roaring Doors-and-Velvets-inspired thunder of Echo & the Bunnymen; the death disco of Public Image Ltd.; and the bass-first minimalism of Delta 5 or the Slits.
With longtime listeners left disenchanted by this year's tepid Gang Of Four reboot, there's only one thing left for a devout post-punk fan to do: Shop around. Enter London trio Shopping, who appropriate the stern, politically-charged legacy of Eighties bands like the Au Pairs or Delta 5 — as well as the cheeky punk ethos of the Slits — for an age of insatiable, compulsory consumption. On the follow-up to their 2013 debut, Consumer Complaints, the band remains in constant conversation: sparring and making up the whole way through, maneuvering through every beat and groovy bass line with mathematical precision.
Ten years ago, you couldn’t move for post-punk. Even as early as this point in most record reviews of guitar music, you’d more likely than not have hit the word ‘angular’ by now. Today, it’s quite different – as the sound became close to ubiquitous, it suddenly seemed to die off just as suddenly. Shopping’s second LP – as unabashedly post-punk as it is – doesn’t really feel like a latecomer to the party, nor the herald of a spurting renaissance of the mid-Noughties.
Shopping — Why Choose (FatCat)Photo by Jenna FoxtonFirst things first: live, Shopping is an endlessly compelling group to watch. The trio — guitarist Rachel Aggs, bassist Billy Easter, and drummer Andrew Milk — are relentlessly tight and capable of shifting tempos and moods at a moment’s notice. All three sing. There are interesting uses of harmonies, and the joy that the group seems to have in their playing is infectious.
Eagles of Death Metal, Swim Deep and Rudimental might be this week’s more high profile releases, but don’t go discounting the week’s smaller offerings too. From Demob Happy’s melodic grunge snarl to Shopping’s DIY inventions via the debatable re-emergence of Noughties indie tykes The Ordinary Boys, here are the best of the rest from October 2. .
If you've grown tired of this era's so-called producer culture - resulting in albums abundant with intricately stacked instrumentation and lush, nebulous atmosphere - you'll find relief in London, England, post-punk trio Shopping. Their second record sits in extreme opposition to that: the 12 brief songs are sonically thin, harsh, primitive. Their imperfections blare through your speakers, as do the clanging discofied hi-hats, nervy guitar lines and jagged, boy/girl shouted vocals.