“The Official Body”
BOTTOM LINE A heady mix of brainy lyrics and booty-shaking bass.
Shopping, the crafty post-punk trio from London, has always combined idealistic lyrics with irresistible bass grooves and spiky guitar work.
On “The Official Body” (Fatcat), though, the group significantly raises its game on both ends.
“This is such a simple thing,” sings guitarist Rachel Aggs to open the potent “My Dad’s a Dancer.” “You don’t like me. I don’t look like you.” Her lyrical aggression is balanced by her intricate, elegant guitar work and the frantic rhythms of bassist Billy Easter and drummer Andrew Milk.
It’s a strategy Shopping employs throughout “The Official Body,” one that producer Edwyn Collins also used with his band Orange Juice. When the lyrics get more intense, the rhythms get groovier. In “Overtime,” Aggs starts off frustrated, singing, “I don’t know what to say. You never tell the truth. I don’t know how to feel. My world is upside down.” But the rhythms are designed to relieve the pressure.
The first single, “The Hype,” is dizzying, as Easter’s bass line calls to mind a mix of New Order and Talking Heads, as they all chant “Last chance!” Luckily, that doesn’t have to be the case since the song, like much of “The Official Body,” will likely go on repeat.