Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Shopping: Consumer Complaints [Milk, 2014]
Because I really like this ridiculously sharp U.K. three-piece, I wish I could tell you that one of their little albums is markedly more desirable than the other. But although they aren't indistinguishable, they are pretty much interchangeable. Both ride full-bodied vocalist-guitarist Rachel Aggs, and both are driven by no-nonsense drummer Andrew Milk and supple bassist Billy Easter. The sound is early-postpunk, Gang of Four times Delta 5--nicely retro-purist if you carry those bands in your memory, fresh and spare if you don't. But the minimalist dexterity of Aggs's guitar flows more irresistibly than either. On both sub-40-minute albums I find my attention flagging as I approach the 30-minute mark even though both sound fine when I begin there and both end with nifty songs--on this 2013 debut, "Theme," the only time they actually address the consumerism you're half afraid a band called Shopping will go on about. Ever alert for a joke, I'm also a fan of the 1:26 opener "Any Answers." Consumer alert: vinyl and DL only. A-