BODEGA – Shiny New Model
Brooklyn art-rock band BODEGA released their 2018 album Endless Scroll to critical acclaim. Listeners enjoyed their streamlined sound and snappy lyrics, though some lamented the failure to break any new ground. Their subsequent 2019 EP Shiny New Model sees some changes from the debut record: lead guitarist Madison Velding-VanDam holds the production reins, and new drummer Tai Lee makes their debut on this record. BODEGA experimented with alternative microphone placement, fresh recording methods, added kick drums, and improvisation to bring a new edge to their sound on this EP. Shiny New Model knocks the listener back on their heels in a fifteen minute dash.
BODEGA often employs an effective, lilting Brit-pop sound. With late-1960s textures and 70s punk sensibilities, the group has a sound that is all at once familiar, fresh, and niche. The double-tracked vocals and understated rhythm guitar lines recall the early releases of The Kinks and The Who; tracks like “Treasures of the Ancient World” and “Truth” sound like The Clash at their hookiest. BODEGA also wears its New York City roots on its sleeve with its lyrics about gentrification and changing neighborhoods.
The opening and title track begins with a computerized voice announcing, “You will be replaced by a shiny new model.” The fuzzy lead guitar licks and rousing drums kick the song into the angry side of melancholy. Bodega Ben, the conductor and frontman, sings about proliferating ATMs and data dictators. Ben alternates between a pleasant indie drawl and a speak-shout delivery, the latter of which misses the mark more often than it hits it. “Knife on a Platter” suffers for its lack of a melody, even with Heather Elle’s groovy bass and the spacey rhythm guitar.
The songs on Shiny New Model are usually at their best when they sing their lyrics; one exception is “Domesticated Animal,” a snarling, snappy spoken duet between Velding-VanDam and percussionist Trix Belfiglio. Their deliveries drip with personality and sass. The introduction of a synthetic marimba sound and surf-rock pick work sets the track apart from the power-rock precedents of the other songs. It’s a jaunty, fun song about our attachments to electronics and constant entertainment.
“Realism,” the EP's shortest track, switches gears with a nostalgic indie rock opening , spinning a tender vignette in less than a minute. Although this brevity isn’t a fault, the lovely melody and instrumentation make the sudden ending disappointing. The longest song is also the strongest; “Truth” boasts a relative girth of three-and-a-half minutes of straight-up rock and roll, featuring one of the album’s most compelling and dynamic solos. The drumbeat is made for dancing and the hook is made for shouting: “The truth’s my punishment.”
Shiny New Model represents a move forward for BODEGA, and the jump in creativity from last year’s album is evident. Not every track is memorable, but this band’s career is young and already contains some killer tracks.