Post-punk anthems and anti-capitalism
For post-punk Brits Shopping, the feeling of their music goes to show just how stark reality can become a part of one’s writing. Especially as musicians challenge those realities for the sake of better establishment. They’ve long upheld their outspoken views as a queer band vying for LGBTQ+ rights and anti-capitalist lifestyles, and their fourth studio album All Or Nothing represents that reality in every way – the sounds, the cultures and the truths, defined by the very things that should not be true.
Their new record, like all their music before, takes on the qualities of big, gay club anthems, a dark wave uplifting the dance floor by the pure arresting charm of its confidence. At this point, it really does feel like it’s all or nothing. There’s this kind of vocal aggression that chops and changes, but it’s in your face the whole time, keeping you there. The continual skipped beats and running bass lines are unrelenting, such that the very nature of Shopping and what they stand for becomes brilliantly characterized by the writing, pushing listeners to engage with them in this way.
“For Your Pleasure,” the first pre-release off the record, kind of sets the tone stylistically, but more so, goes to show that Shopping is in many ways reinventing themselves as well. The music feels more precedented than ever before, and it comes down to the fact that their reputation follows them. They can afford to indulge without pushing an agenda because it’s there already – listeners bring it to the table before the music has even started. In some ways, it puts the band at a disadvantage to be so categorized, when all they really want is to be free, but it’s testament to their will. Their music has become more intricate because of it, and in turn, they ironically have the freedom to express themselves in ways they never could before.
Lisa Millet, one of the band’s video directors, summed it up pretty well, saying that it really just comes down to feeling great about who you are, feeling loved and seen and understood, and most importantly, being honest with yourself. This lightness is largely the best success on the record, and it’s felt in everything – the ’80s New Order beats on tracks like “All Or Nothing,” the bit-riff chants on “No Apologies,” the chaos and order, the way the guitars run around the songs like children, the deep dives they take in the instrumental sections, and best of all, the shortness of the vocals. There’s an attitude in all of this that makes every track feel like its own anthem, still, the music maintains its style more so than becoming a political campaign. It’s close enough to make a statement, but never a bitten limb to bury.