Music Review: Shopping – All or Nothing (Fatcat, February 2020)

Initially, Lucy Parsons II was not being compliant in the music & pets photo shoot. I thought this record could also be captured well with Glisten the Slutty Reign Deer (they/them), but then Yung Luce decided she wanted to be in it after all.

Shopping only came to my attention last year, but this year’s All or Nothing is their fourth album in the last seven years, and all of these records are extremely worth your time. I asked the drummer, Andrew Milk, if the band is named after the Pink Section song “Shopping,” and he told me that he had originally suggested it as a band name due to that song, but that bassist, Billy Easter, had liked it because it also an excellent song by the Pet Shop Boys. Somewhere in between these two ideas is where Shopping have been realizing themselves, most especially on this latest effort, which includes the use of synthesizers.

The things that have made Shopping a band I pay attention to are still very much here: Rachel Aggs’ extremely sharp and angular guitar, deeply groovy bass lines from Billy, drum patterns that consistently fascinate me from Andrew; lyrics which are smart and political, but mainly through first person narrative rather than sloganeering; and the dual male/female vocals that remind me of other UK postpunk bands I love very much, like the Au Pairs. All or Nothing is their tightest and punchiest effort to date. It is a record about change, taking risks, and making difficult decisions. (While they all used to live in London and work at the same Power Lunches venue and rehearsal space, Easter is now in L.A. and Aggs is in Glasgow where her other current band, Sacred Paws, is located.) The band seemed well positioned to have an extremely successful U.S. tour before the Covid-19 lockdown found them homeless in a country where they are not citizens, quarantining in the desert until they could find a flight back home, all tour dates canceled. (I had scheduled a whole birthday week that was bookended by seeing them play in New York and Chicago and interviewing them somewhere along the way!)

Let’s listen to some of my favorite songs on this record.

“Expert Advice” is the strongest track on this album, and feels very appropriate to the times we are living in. I have been wanting to yell “stop investing in decline” at the Senate of my nation for many months, now. They really peak as a band when they are all singing together. This track is included in my very dope spring quarantine mix to help you survive this world right now.

They made this incredible music video for the title track. It is my sincere hope that Shopping didn’t have their moment of ascendance disrupted in some way that will result in them never receiving the level of attention and economic support they deserve; I want their risks to pay off.

There are only eight copies of this remaining on vinyl in their Bandcamp store. Why don’t you consider grabbing one before they are all gone?


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