Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Shopping

  • Consumer Complaints [Milk, 2014] A-
  • Why Choose? [Fat Cat, 2015] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

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-

Why Choose? [Fat Cat, 2015]
I guess you could say their only CD is even suppler--you can tell they've been woodshedding. Their distinction between time wasted, which is yours, and time lost, which the bad guys have stolen from you, qualifies "Time Wasted" as a welcome apercu from a band who have to keep explaining they're not really political because their fan base misses the Gang of Four even more after hearing 2015's What Happens Next. Their fan base's Delta 5 contingent should ask whether the slightly more femme-sounding Billy Easter ever takes the lead on the de facto breakup sequence that begins at the flagging point with "Sinking Feeling," because she should and I'm pretty sure doesn't. Everyone should stick around for the abstract closer "12345," which Spotify reports is their least played track and I report is their most fetching. A-