Thursday, January 18, 2018
Album Review :: Shopping - The Official Body
The Official Body
January 19 2018 (FatCat Records)
Words: Richard O’Hagan
Rachel Aggs is a busy woman. Not content with being a member of both Trash Talk and Sacred Paws, plus a burgeoning reputation as the voice of queer and/or mixed-race indie music, she is also one third of Shopping. And this, fittingly, is their third album.
There’s an awful lot going on in ‘The Official Body’. It’s frenetic and urgent, reflecting the society which the trio find themselves living in. The staccato beats echo early post-punk acts such as Wire, Cabaret Voltaire and A Certain Ratio. Aggs and bass player Billy Easter share vocal duties, often singing different – but complementary – lines at the same time. The effect is, at times, quite mesmerising.
Opener ‘The Hype’ is positively funky, with Easter’s bass burbling away like a modern day Jah Wobble. ‘Suddenly Gone’ features Aggs' trademark chiming guitar and some forthright lyrics about being female, gay and of mixed race in a predominantly male, straight and white industry.
Shopping even found a post-punk legend to record this record, spending ten days with none other than Edwyn Collins up in Clashnarrow. If that leads to a somewhat 80s vibe to some of the production, it is entirely in keeping with the band’s sound. Indeed, with so much going on, every song seems remarkably light, airy and spacious, which is a real achievement when the material is so dark at times.
There’s a little bit of a sag in the middle of the recording, where ‘Discover’ could probably have been omitted entirely, but overall this is a very fine record with some important things to say. Definitely an early contender for end-of-year honours.