Following on the success of their two previous albums for FatCat, which were praised on both sides of the pond as "breakneck, open-eared, positivist post-punk canter" (NME) and "direct, smart, catchy, and extremely punk" (Pitchfork) – the band returns to shake some asses with an agenda yet again. The Official Body was produced by Edwyn Collins (Orange Juice) at his studio in Helmsdale, Scotland, who brought his taut post-punk ear to the Shopping's acclaimed evolution of brittle ‘70s polti-punk.
If the band's approach was prescient in the past, our current political landscape renders them ever more indicative of the restlessness of youth's current dilemma. Rachel Aggs (vocals, guitar) reflects, "We wrote the album submerged in a political atmosphere that felt particularly chaotic and disorientating. It was tempting to take ourselves a little more seriously on this record but I feel as though we held on to our sense of humor and our general irreverence in the face of so many oppressive systems." The album's title The Official Body, is a play on the idea of official bodies of power and control, "the mystical powers that be" as bassist Billy Easter deems them, as well as the construct of a physical body that fits within the societal paradigm of what is "acceptable."
Collins helped the band develop their sound, diverting the setup away from the standard drums, bass, guitar stance that's been the band's staple. The album is the first to incorporate synths to Shopping's frenetic dance, ushering in an updated line of post-punk progressiveness. "We introduced a Novation Bass station and drum pads which has amped up the party vibe on this new album," says Aggs, "and possibly introduced some surprising elements including a song with no guitar at all – "Wild Child."
The band manages to walk the razor thin line between inspiring euphoric dance and shouldering societal anxiety. They face down gender politics and environmental peril ("Suddenly Gone"), breakdown social media as both a vital emotional mask and conduit of spirit ("Wild Child"). The Official Body stays true to the minimal dance-punk ethos of Shopping's previous releases, fans of which will undoubtedly find this logical unfolding of their musical approach thoroughly satisfying.