The Student Playlist

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REVIEW: Bodega – ‘Endless Scroll’ (What’s Your Rupture?)

After leaving their mark at both last year’s SXSW and Great Escape festivals, Bodega have already released their debut Endless Scroll, only months after releasing their debut single ‘How Did This Happen?!’ back in February. Recorded by Parquet Courts’ Austin Brown on the same Tascam Machine used for their 2012 debut album Light Up Gold, it was instantly undeniable that fans of that band would flock towards Bodega as they chant “everyone is equally a master and a slave / how did this happen?”

In a recent track-by-track feature on Endless Scroll in DIY magazine, Ben Hozie described ‘Bodega Birth’ as the “record’s theme song”. With the robotic and automated opening of “I used my computer for everything, heaven knows I’m miserable now” against the minimalist and rough art-punk backing, Bodega paved the way for an album centralised on absurdities and alienation inescapably built in to modern life. As the lyrics repeatedly state, the album really is a documentary.

On ‘Can’t Knock The Hustle’, Bodega mock hipsters, and the kind of people foolish enough to pay “nine dollars for a smoothie”. Unsurprising the impact of technology on day-to-day life is central to the entirety of the album, as can be assumed by the title Endless ScrolI, however this is done with a sardonic wit not unlike that of the late Mark E Smith of The Fall, Hozie sneering “I fell in love staring at a screen, triple dots I see bouncing / name lights up, my heart will beat”.

New single ‘Jack In Titanic’ covers the impact of idolisation and heroisation of fictional characters for young boys and how it shapes their attitudes and desires – DiCaprio’s character being of personal significance to Hozie. The vocal exchanges between Hozie and Nikki Belfiglio are very reminiscent of those of Pixies’ Black Francis and Kim Deal, with Belfiglio’s dead-pan and effortless vocals joining Hozier for the final words of each lyrical phrase.

Generally, every track on the album doesn’t develop much musically, but with many tracks only just scraping the two-minute mark, this isn’t particularly surprising. Also, despite Bodega sticking pretty strictly to their minimalistic punk sound, Endless Scroll never seems repetitive. Instead, the band focus on subtleties. ‘Bookmarks’ has a tinge of funkiness to it with the constantly repeated and catchy line “stare at the computer”, a criticism of the monotonousness of everyday life and our addiction to technology. It’s almost like a throwback to the early ‘00s where dance-punk dominated the dancefloor. Belfiglio’s ‘Gyrate’ has a similar sound, with its fast-paced and catchy rendition of female public masturbation.

‘Williamsburg Bridge’ is one of the few tracks that stretch past three minutes. Even then, it doesn’t dramatically change, instead building subtly from a minimal bass line, guitar strumming adding feedback and distortion leading up to an emotive and beautiful instrumental for the last 30 seconds with a whirlpool of wailing distortion.

Yet not everything is satire and commentary. ‘Boxes For The Move’ and ‘Charlie’ in particular and bring out a much more emotive, personal and intimate layer beneath the Bodega’s surface-level barbs, both with a heavy story-telling style. Immediately with ‘Charlie’ the soft ringing, almost campfire-fire country guitar chords contrast the track to anything else on the album. This isn’t surprising as the song is a tribute to Hozie’s best friend Charlie who drowned in the Charleston River on New Year’s Eve 2006, bluntly explained by “I was standing on the lawn on that New Year’s Eve / as your body washed up from the river you were covered in leaves”. The pronouns ‘you’ and ‘I’ are laced throughout the track making it more of a conversation between Hozie and Charlie, birthing such an intense sense of intimacy. This pushes the listener into a bystander role, but does not alienate, simultaneously inviting them to share their pain and sorrow. Clearly, Bodega aren’t limited to social commentary but also sharing personal pain.

2018 has already been an impressive break-out year for Bodega as they tour relentlessly to capitalise upon Endless Scroll. Hopefully their experiences will allow them to deliver an excellent follow-up in short order. (8/10) (Sandie Garland)

Listen to Endless Scroll by Bodega here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!

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