SHOPPING – Why Choose – Album Review

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shopping why choose

Why Chose  is available October 2nd, via Fat Cat Records.

Due to some very involved personal research, I can confirm that East London’s post-80’s,  post-punk trio (Rachel Aggs, Billy Easter, Andrew Milk), SHOPPING, has just made an album capable of soothing a post-beer hangover on a post-rain sunday. The qualifications for such music are pretty basic: it must be just aggressive enough to motivate its bleary-eyed listener to put on pants and chug a glass of water, but not so rageful as to cause further cranial throbs. Additionally, it must be a bit dancey in order to help the listener shrug off a night of dubious decision making. Why Choose, (the sophomore LP for this group) slated for an October 9th release via Fat Cat records, is all of this and of course a bit more.

The album starts off feeling very compact. The first track, appropriately titled “Wind Up” sports a little bit of surfy guitar action with a militantly percussive background. The lyrics are crafted, then thrown around with deadpan abandon ( I am not sure that phrase, “deadpan abandon’ is even a thing, but stick with me… I am almost through the worst of this hangover.), and coupled with Aggs’ sort of grim approach to harmonizing. SHOPPING’s style of sound is steady throughout, resulting in a rather cohesive auditory journey. The production comes off as a bit coy, polished but with distinct loyalty to the lofi side of things, nothing is too obviously touched up, but it’s all pretty clean. It’s undeniably a member of the post-punk genre, but with a tough tinge of riot in the guitar work. Fans of Sleater Kinney’s latest artistic progression (or any number of similarly devised musical projects which shun too much electro-involvement which still maintaining pop-catchiness) will probably find tracks like “Sinking Feeling” especially appealing. By the time the listener arrives at the fifth track, “Say It Once” SHOPPING, lets just a touch of psychedelia show, just a peep which only furthers the ageless sensations Why Choose fosters.

Content wise, the songwriting stays short and simple, briskly unadorned. In some tracks,  most notably in “I Have Decided”, a disengaged male-sounding voice occasionally shows up muttering about in the background. This bit, reminiscent of Lou Reed-style chatter, came off as a fascinating oddity glinting against bare-bones instrumentals. In fact, the key to songwriting for SHOPPING appears to be a keen sense of control, with each word more an asset to melodic assonance than sing-a-long landscape. It cannot be stressed enough that Why Choose is so stripped down both musically and lyrically that the album eventually seems to come off a little bit timeless, if we are only considering work from the late 70s until now, of course.

Additionally, it is my suspicion that seeing SHOPPING live would be an interesting experience, their attitude being so practiced and with a sense of DIY professionalism. It would be interesting to see how this approach is translated into a performance. I hope they somehow make it to somewhere in the states near the East Coast soon.

Why Chose is available October 2nd, via Fat Cat Records

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