Album Review: Shopping – The Official Body

To put it bluntly, London trio Shopping have been one of the most important UK bands of recent times. Putting aside their blistering live shows (a near-perfection meld of wiry, melodic guitar, shout and response vocals and deep, juddering bass), 2012’s sophomore album Why Choose was a intelligent, fiery riposte to late stage capitalism and the adverse effect of consumerism on the individual within the system.

Musically bombastic, socially and politically conscious and relevant, and blistering live, Shopping embodied all the qualities that make music so potent and special. So upon the release of the band’s third LP The Official Body, out today via Fat Cat Records, expectations are high. Is it possible to follow two near-perfect records with another?

The answer: stick to the blueprint, and continue to make it even better – something that’s demonstrated in the first track. ‘The Hype’ sees Shopping takes their notorious hyperactivity and a twitchy groove, and transforms it into something altogether more steadfast and funky, with Rachel Aggs’ canniness for summoning a catchy guitar riff on full display throughout the song. For those who know Shopping, think their smash hit ‘Straight Lines’ put through the filter of 80s disco.

Elsewhere on the record, Shopping continue this sonic expansion as synths skwonk and buzz throughout ‘Discover’ and ‘New Values’, giving their new LP an extra dimension.  On previous releases, Shopping imbued the listener with a nervous energy, a brittle jittering call to action; on The Official Body, this energy blossoms into a full blown dance, a political swinging of limbs with full force and gusto. Expansive, focused, danceable and political, in the abrasive and dangerous landscape of Tory Britain The Official Body is a record that is vital both as a catalyst and a relief. It’s exuberant music that supplies the fire in the belly and shelter from the storm in equal measure.

Although it’s a strange accolade for one of the most exciting bands in the UK at the moment, Shopping sure are a safe pair of hands. With The Official Body the band mark their third release, yet they’ve lost none of the raucous energy that made their debut Consumer Complaints so bombastic. In fact the opposite is true – they’ve added more coal to the fire and focused the flames. Add in the expansion of their sound shown throughout The Official Body and you’ve got a unique, exciting band who consistently deliver. If 2012’s Why Choose showed Shopping could create two great records, The Official Body promises there’s many more to come.