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Consumer Complaints Melissa Rakshana Steiner , November 11th, 2013 08:20

Shopping have a life-force all of their own. Live, the band emanates a self-assuredness and a commitment to contributing maximum joy to their audience  (who are often happily dancing their hearts out on a week night in a hot, cramped venue below street level), and they have succeeded in capturing that gut energy on this, their debut album Consumer Complaints.

Previously playing together as part of similarly charismatic five-piece Covergirl, Rachel Aggs (guitar), Billy Easter (bass) and Andrew Milk (drums) have all played in a plethora of other bands, some of which - Trash Kit and Wetdog immediately spring to mind – have greatly impacted the DIY queer art/punk scene or whatever you wish to call that thriving creative community coming out of East London and like-minded pockets in cities all over the UK.  Now Shopping are making their own waves. 
 Confounding skeptics' expectations about what a DIY debut album might sound like, Consumer Complaints arrives fully formed and confident. Nevertheless, a fiercely DIY attitude has gone into the production of the record, which will be put out on Mïlk Records, the label run by Billy and Andrew from the band. Their autonomous approach places Shopping firmly within that often prematurely archived "Rip it Up and Start Again" lineage (albeit with the accoutrements of the internet), and they have the sound to match. This is a band that wears its influences on its sleeves with Billy's funk-infused bass creating complicated cross rhythms with Rachel's idiosyncratic, chord-eschewing  guitar, invoking post-punk memories of ESG, Delta 5 and Talking Heads, with the occasional abrupt belligerence of Gang of Four.

But despite these obvious comparisons, Shopping are not indulging in pastiche here, rather, they tip their hat to the era, distilling the sound and creating something fresh and still eminently danceable with light, twitching drums and a tough youth of London vibe running like a spine throughout.

This album is often... groovy... and I hate that word as much as the next guy, but how else to describe the snaking, languid, suppressed menace of 'Hard as Nails', or the swagger, sneak and shout of 'We Say You Pay'? What I mean is, you can't help but move to this music. Lyrics are generally minimal, often playful; the aforementioned 'We Say...' ends with a garbled mess of words, and the hypnotic final track 'Theme' has the refrain of “buy something, want something” repetitively woven around the word “Buy!” shot out like a bullet, the song ending in a James Chance-like meltdown which includes a trumpet making a first and last appearance on the album.

In contrast is 'For Your Money', the only song primarily sung by Andrew. His I've-been-up-all-night vocals match the callously melancholic tale of a young guy with a shit job who is sleeping with a man for his City-job money, breaking his heart in the process. It is a sly and tender queer love story in all its confused truth, with a genuinely heart-twisting refrain made by guitar and bass building to a crescendo where the question is asked, “who are you now?”. 'Santa Monica Place' also stands out from the funk, veering into a surf guitar call and response and climaxing with guitar-shredding noise distortion.

As a debut, Consumer Complaints is impressive in the fact that it's all killer; you won't find a dull track on the album. Proof that DIY will never die, Shopping have the means to make you dance, and since they're doing what they want, how they want, it's pointless to resist.