Review Summary: Whatever. Who cares?
Post-Punk revivalism tends to be panned by people quite often for being too derivative and repetitive. Unfortunately, more often than not the accusations are justified. And there is so many of them that many people lost their faith in the genre altogether. But Shopping might just be one of the few last truly unique voices in the revivalist era.
Now, “unique” they are only in the context of that very revivalist era. But they definitely do try their best to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pile by taking influences not from the most banal places, such as Joy Division or the Cure, but more from the more snarky, humorous side of the underground 80s British scene. Their music is never aggressive, it is never sorrowful and it is never too obscure to be inaccessible to an average listener. It is just mild and with a great sense of stylistic nonchalance.
The Official Body
is not the band’s creative pinnacle, but then again, the band’s style is not the one that tries to wow the listener with its atmosphere or instrumental magnitude. That is not the point. This album is built on the simplest melodies that are there only as a formality. It also doesn’t rely in the smallest on the impressive instrumental passages or overwhelming themes. Its purpose is minimalistic and vague. Its sound is cocky and apathetic. Its lyrics are simple and straightforward. It is everyone’s perception of Post-Punk stripped of all of its pretentiousness and only given the basic musical tools to survive, but it ends up thriving.
That is not to say that the album is only all about cheeky writing and play with no intention to change in the slightest. The album holds surprises, such as the songs “Discover” and “New Values”, which are vaguely electronic and especially the former’s bassline is just a slight microscopic bit more atmospheric than on other cuts on here. It is as radical a surprise as the chosen style on here allows going.
It is the album’s primary charm that is hidden in the upfront primitivism. It is the loud bass tangling that builds the tunes. It is the indifference in vocals that give it personality. It is the lyrical haziness that makes it so charismatic. It is an album of the inconcrete that never ventures into anything particularly esoteric, not because it has nowhere to venture or because it is unable to. It doesn’t, because it doesn’t care.