Shopping – The Official Body (Review)
On the cusp of stardom in the early 80s, Duran Duran’s Simon LeBon famously quipped “We want to be the band to dance to when The Bomb drops.” Fast-forward to 2018 and Shopping have perfected that mission statement on The Official Body. Produced by Edwyn Collins, the band mixes the jagged post-punk politics of Gang of Four and the spiky dance rhythms of Collins’ own Orange Juice. Unsettled political climates often fuels artistic excellence and Shopping strike first in 2018 with an art-punk album that feels timely and timeless.
Two albums, released only weeks apart in 1979, established the post-punk framework for future generations. The Slits Cut and Gang Of Four’s Entertainment! tossed funk, dub, and reggae into the punk cauldron to create endless possibilities for the bands that followed. On The Official Body, Shopping use a similar musical approach. They also capture one element that often gets lost in translation with modern post-punk bands: fun. As influential as The Slits were on the riot girrrl movement, they were also a lot of fun on Cut. Likewise, Gang Of Four managed to espouse their Marxist philosophies with enough dark humor to leave you with a wry smile.
The Official Body’s opener “The Hype” leads you towards the dance floor even as it questions society’s prescribed narrative for the individual. Shopping seek to deconstruct the myths that prop up the personal and political ideologies of today’s unsettled world. Like the post-punk icons of 1979, they are largely successful. Whereas The Slits were a celebration of visceral impact over technique, Shopping wield formidable chops with the dry, trebly guitar and resonant bass lines taking turns as the melodic lead.
In “My Dad’s A Dancer”, singer-guitarist Rachel Eggs turns her points of difference into a warrior’s cry for anyone who might be classified as “weird” by the “official body” of society; whether that is the government or reality television. The seriousness of the message doesn’t dampen the upbeat, bouncy mood of the music which makes it all the more effective. The Official Body never backs down as an album and the confidence of the band in their music and message makes it one of the best post-punk listens in several years.