By Jolie Klefeker
A lot of great music has come out in the past couple of weeks. A couple of new records have me excited because they both seem to draw something from the '80s but still manage to sound like themselves. If you're in the mood for a little something retro or just want a dance fix, definitely give these a listen.
While there's certainly an anti-capitalist political statement running though their music, what grabs me most about Shopping's music is their undeniable post-punk dance groove, which instantly calls to mind legends like The Slits, Bush Tetras and Delta 5. Without being overly repetitive, Shopping has managed to identify the catchiest, most iconic elements of the post-punk movement and polish it all up with their own contemporary sheen. Angular guitars, dominant bass and sharp guitars throttle us into almost spoken, unmistakably British vocals. Shopping's latest, "The Official Body," is the London trio's third release and boasts a fuller, more put-together feeling. It's an all-around tight record: I mean that in the colloquial, "cool" sense but also in a technical way.
Every detail, note and beat line up to form a perfect balance between a strict complexity and a punk nonchalance. This record packs it all in. This dexterity seems especially obvious on tracks "Wild Child," "The Hype" and "My Dad's A Dancer." If you're not familiar with the old stuff, I would recommend this to fans of Sneaks or even LCD Soundsystem, on the record's heavier synth moments.
I feel like every writeup about MGMT starts with the same spiel, something along the lines of: "The unlikely indie rockstars who were quickly launched into popularity" or "a couple of college kids unprepared to handle the precedent they set for themselves" or "a band that's spent the past 10 years ineffectively trying to recreate the record that brought them short-lived success." I'm not trying to roast them, but MGMT has had a hard time because it felt like they never really branched out. Well, now they have, and I'm pleasantly surprised. "Little Dark Age" is the MGMT record I've been waiting for. It finally seems like they're gaining distance from "Oracular Spectacular" and bringing us something a little less bright, more mature and informed. Tracks like "Little Dark Age," "One Thing Left To Try" and "Me and Michael" immediately invoke a new wave kind of nostalgia through their driving synths and upbeat pop energy that almost sounds corny but isn't. For the most part, a dreamy sort of danciness acts as the glue of this release, sticking together darker synths with the warmer, groovier moments. This record is certainly still an MGMT record — one that borrows from indie traditions and fuses it with pop to make something a little off-kilter with mass appeal. But it seems to let go of the rainbow-colored, stoner, college-town energy they carried with them through their previous two releases. Notes of contemporary influences like Ariel Pink and John Maus seem pretty present across the board, as both of them seem to exemplify what it means to make indie music in a "post-Animal Collective" era. This doesn't qualify as an underground record, but as a pop album, it's pretty dang good and you should give it listen.
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