Shoplifting Shoplifting EP

[Kill Rock Stars; 2004]

Styles: experimental rock, post-punk
Others: The Chromatics, Erase Errata, Xiu Xiu

Shoplifting's self-titled release promises "NO FUCKING AROUND," but winds up doing just that for the entire EP, a vicious assault of 4th grade guitars, calamitous feedback and some severely damaged instruments. All this chaos comes off like an exercise in cultivated apathy, a stab at finding liberation in being purposefully bad. As post-punk noise justification goes, this idea falls flat.

Shoplifting doesn't particularly want to be understood. If they did, they might try enunciating their words. Their lyrics are half-screamed and half-slobbered through a mess of competing and self-defeating instrumentation. I can only assume, based on such riveting questions/exclamations as "What's between my legs?!" that their verbal ineptitude is best left drowned out. Unfortunately, it's often in lyrical detail that difficult, atonal music finds ways to illuminate and explain itself, as experimental music from the likes of Xiu Xiu or Goldfrapp has demonstrated. And even if the now-popular Yeah Yeah Yeahs got famous on dissonant guitars and screamed lyrics, there is an undeniable fun in their faked apathy and their ludicrously large sense of entitlement.

Shoplifting's sense of entitlement, however, is shockingly real; feeling no need to justify themselves to anyone, much less me ("We're not scared of you critics," a PR notice proclaims), they've managed to turn out a set of tracks that's bewildering in its ability to alienate the listener, punish repeat listening and ultimately become completely unbearable. With nothing compelling to recommend them, Shoplifting may have accidentally produced the defining statement of the anti-intellectual art noise movement -- all worked up, and surprisingly little to say.

1. L.O.V.E.
2. Raw Nails Now
3. Ask Me
4. Contrapuntal Prancing