One of the UK’s best three-piece post-punkers is Shopping, a band able to accomplish quite a lot with very little. Caught somewhere between the ‘80s sheen of present-day Ceremony, the attitude of Priests, and the snarl and skronk of The Slits’ classic Cut, they’re able to make timeless-sounding post-punk that comes with a surprisingly robust amount of flair for a band using such rigid tools.
Now on their fourth album, they’re ready to spread their wings ever so slightly. All or Nothing toys with the formula, seeing occasional bursts of synth in some songs—the future-classic “Initiative” and dance-floor-ready “Follow Me”—almost sounding a little industrial. As with their past albums, All or Nothing is a hit that doesn’t hide any of its elements: the vocals of Rachel Aggs (and, occasionally, bassist Billy Easter and drummer Andrew Milk) are clean and the lyrics fully understandable. The guitar is rarely distorted and the rhythm section crisp and unburied. It’s an approach that somehow isn’t unique—and, frankly, it’s a strange thing to applaud—but it makes every song sizzle with the kind of immediacy that often gets drowned out by guitar fuzz and obscured vocals.
With that in mind, the biggest downfall of All or Nothing is the fact that none of their experimenting feels all that risky, or even all that surprising. For as addicting and fun as each song is, you get the sense that they were always going to end up exactly here, augmenting their monochromatic palette with ancient-sounding synth touches to rage within a box now only slightly larger. It’s admirable for them to make music with the limited tools used, but even the glossy synths in “For Your Pleasure” sounds restless in its desire to just go hog wild and make the song even more rapturous.Who cares, though? All or Nothing is infectious as hell and every song—no matter how monochromatic—hits hard enough that you’ll find yourself singing “WHY CAN’T YOU! SHOW! SOME! INITIATIVE?!” under your breath for days after. Even if they’re using a limited box of tricks, it’s still too fun to watch and see what they can make with it.