Review: Shopping, ‘Why Choose’

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As featured in Rolling Stone, 11/11/2016

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.

Is it a scathing, in-your-face communiqué against capitalism? Not exactly. It’s more of a frenzied dash along the blurry line between consumer and personal relations. Everything here is measured in terms of time and labor, from the jilted date attesting her worth in “No Show” to the jealous sugar daddy lamenting his flighty sugar baby in “Straight Lines,” whose video is set in a swanky apartment where the clean, naked bodies of young people stand in for furniture. “I saw you with another guy,” drummer Andrew Milk sings reproachfully. “You go home empty-handed when you go home with his type.”

“Why Wait?” presents Shopping’s ultimate thesis statement for our era of instant online gratification: “Why wait when it’s all on my doorstep/When it’s all in my hand?” sings guitarist Rachel Aggs. Bass player Billy Easter has described it as a song about “being consumed by a system whilst also harboring an intense desire to freak out and consume everything at once.” That’s an apt description of what Shopping is after on Why Choose – an album that evokes all the flustered tension of an age in which we incessantly crave stimulation, even as we serve as stimulating products ourselves. Luckily, Shopping are also smart enough to keep us on our toes and dancing from start to finish, with not a second spilt.

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