Even a sharp sound and energy needs to be refined at times. The UK’s Shopping have been offering up compelling shows and songs for the past while, and their latest release definitely captures their energy well. Due to their fairly inconsistent writing however, there are too many moments where songs feel less cooked than others. Given how excited much of this record can make you for Shopping’s future, they don’t bring enough dynamics to make it consistently satisfying.
The so nature of their dark guitar work makes the whole album a mysterious journey, but never so much as on the vintage grooves of “The Hype.” Shopping really put heft into each shout of the song, adding handfuls of grit to their sound. As the bass kicks into overdrive on “Wild Child,” the sound opens up to something a little more lo-fi, making each synth note all the more sharp. On this note however, there’s no real moment of release in the song, leaving it feeling oddly empty and anticlimactic.
“Asking For A Friend” drives its dance-rock beat hard, creating a charged but exciting energy in its fast kick. The back and forth dynamic between the vocalists shifts from conversations to harmonies, making each chorus feel like a strong climax to each section of the song. They take this feeling forward on “Suddenly Gone” rather than completely switching gears, creating a shocking sense of evolution in the song. While it may feel a bit redundant, the sense of momentum this creates when listening to the album star to finish is overwhelming.
Shopping emulate tones of Priests and darker punk on “Shave Your Head” as they critique the strange ways people try to rebel against the norm. As the song pushes to its finale, the band starts to play faster and looser, creating an intense sense of chaos without ever falling apart. “Discover” cranks up the heavy synths and electronic production for a menacing dance track. It does however feel a little withdrawn due to its lack of strong dynamic shifts across the song, making anything outside the verse feel tedious.
There’s a sublime quality to the bass on “Control Yourself” that oozes mystery and seduction from the guitar as well. The clever vocal writing on this track is refreshing, making each verse feel like a powerful build on the one before it. “My Dad’s A Dancer” lets the grooves go wild, as guitars and drums get powerfully loose while all creating a tangible core to the track. While the instrumental explosions between each verse feel like a step in the right direction for their writing, the mix doesn’t make these sections distinct enough to help the song along.
“New Values” however tries to blend the instrumentation and different voices a lot more interesting, making its mantra-like delivery haunting. Even with the lack of weight between sections, they up the ante enough of their writing and effects to make something compelling. “Overtime” moves in a different direction, as it snowballs the song’s energy through volume and additional instruments in each break. While this may work best live, the song presents a much more mature attempt at subverting expectations than a lot of the record.
Words by Owen Maxwell