It would be fair to say that Bodega are a band of few surprises. Take one look at the quintet before you’re privy to their sound and you’ll more than likely already have a sonic imagination of just what you’re ears are about to consume: Raw, Art-School Hipster Indie-Rock. In fact, when reviewing their previous full length release, another writer on this very site described them as “music for trendy art teachers” (I may be paraphrasing slightly here) and since then, absolutely nothing has changed. Simplistic instrumentation, half-spoken/half-sung lyrics for that ‘Punk‘ edge that has been dulled since the late seventies and lyrics that people, like myself, will stroke our chins (or beards if appropriate) at, talking about how their’s actually a really deep and clever meaning to, but to most listeners will just sound like a word salad of, at-times, pretentious poetry that thinks it’s far more clever than it actually is.
It’s a marmite sound that is sure to divide listeners straight down the middle, but it worked before so surely the lightning will strike twice won’t it? I personally grew to adore their aforementioned prior release, ‘Endless Scroll‘, so isn’t it almost guaranteed that more of the same will hit the spot?
Well… Um… Maybe? Kind of?
Kicking off with title track, ‘Shiny New Model‘, we pick up exactly where we left, with lyrics dealing with modern day consumer culture and the idea of constantly trying to spend more on yourself to compete with whatever the latest trendy s**t of the day is. It’s a subject that many of us will have discussed and will discuss as time goes on, probably in more eloquent tones than are put forward here. It’s catchy as hell, that much is undeniable, but lacks any real depth to it’s message whilst wallowing a little too much in it’s own self-decreed cleverness. It wouldn’t matter so much if the band hadn’t previously shown themselves so capable of dealing with more observational subject matter head on in a way that is both simple to understand, but impactful. You only have to listen their arguably most popular single ‘How Did It Happen?‘ for a strong example of the band at their best, both musically and lyrically.
That said, it would be unfair to say that the band are lyrically weak throughout the seven track run time. On the flip side of the coin, ‘Knife On The Platter’ contains one of my absolute favourite lyrics of 2019 with, “History will laugh at your lazy, hip, smug fatalism“. Make of that what you will, but it is within these lyrics that leave themselves so open to interpretation that the band show off one of their strongest skills. Yet even this is watered down by a constant usage of repetitive lyrics on nearly every track. Even on this very track, the word ‘knife‘ alone makes up far too much of the overall content. Combine this with dual vocals that just clutter up a space where a single voice would have been far more in keeping with overall tone and the whole affair starts to feel messy and, at times, unfinished, more in keeping with a demo tape than a full studio track. ‘Domesticated Animal‘ is probably the worst offender for this, using multiple vocals in unison with each other on a song that would be more suited to a singular voice, with it’s content that sounds like it’s been pulled straight out of a complex internal monologue. Perhaps it could be viewed as a commentary on how people share the same thoughts? Although perhaps that may be looking more deeply than is required?
Who knows, perhaps I’m getting this whole EP wrong? Maybe it really is just far too clever for my little brain too handle and I’m missing all of the intricacies that make it brilliant?
Regardless, when compared with the band’s seminal previous works, ‘Shiny New Model’ sounds like a blend of fifty percent short and snappy American Indie bangers, alongside fifty percent half finished demo tapes that lack any real depth, but take themselves a tad too seriously, perhaps to an almost self-gratifying extent?