Bodega – Broken Equipment Review: The Band Expand Their Palette On This Thrilling Musical Tour Of New York And Its History | Guitare.com
You won’t hear many records this year that sound more like where they were made than the second album from New York art-rock collective Bodega. The sequel to the 2018 debut Endless Scroll may have been informed by the voracious appetite of Ben Hozie and Nikki Belfiglio for the work of philosophers from other parts of the globe, but it could not have been shaped anywhere but in the Big Apple.
Listening to these 12 tracks feels a bit like archaeology, scraping the ground to reveal stacked historical artifacts from one of the world’s great musical cities. The blitzkrieg punk charge of Ramones, the disco impulse of the revolutionary club scene of the early 1980s, the hip-hop fury of the Beastie Boys and Run-DMC, and the garage-rock revival led by The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, LCD Soundsystem’s dancefloor explorations and contemporary post-punk Parquet Courts.
Somehow, Bodega distils all of these disparate influences into a signature sound that never really feels like a knockoff.
As on the band’s debut album, there is a pervasive layer of self-aware satire in Hozie and Belfiglio’s reflections on modern life. Bassist/philosophy professor Adam See provides a relentless beat, while scruffy, frantic riffs from Hozie and lead guitarist Dan Ryan betray their vast musical chops.
When the album opens with the resounding bass groove of thrownpunctuated with cowbell hits, jagged slashes and a crisp lyrical cascade, it feels like Bodega is picking up where it left off with 2019. Shiny new model PE. However, with four swipes of Tai Lee’s wands, we’re catapulted headlong into New Yorkers’ finest moment yet, the album’s first single. Makers.
A classic of up-and-coming indie clubs, the song is a commentary on the commercialization of self-help language and a toxic culture of relentless productivity. Hozie, always happy to remind us how cultured he is, then names Hemingway paraphrase Daft Punk as he laments a generation left “bitter, tougher, fatter, stressed”. Well done if you can listen to it five times without finding yourself mumbling”10 minutes of Bandcamp, 10 minutes of browsing the Wiki, 10 minutes of planning my next 10 minutes…‘ for the rest of the day. It’s an incendiary, inspirational and quite brilliant single.
Belfiglio assumes vocal duties on the third track Female territorial callwith shades of Kathleen Hanna on Le Tigre’s hot topicbefore NYC (disambiguation) simultaneously nods to James Murphy and Interpol. A chorus-washed echoing riff emerges from a vigorous return, and Hozie sings “New York was founded by a companyas he traces the Big Apple’s murky history, from persecution of Native Americans to market meltdowns and rampant gentrification.
While Bodega’s influences are abundantly and unabashedly on display here, broken equipment is more varied than the beginnings of the group. There is a raw punk spirit present on Statuette on the console and How can I help you ?. Belfiglio has recorded versions of the former (written from God’s point of view, no less) in eight languages, and a one-note riff drifts away relentlessly under the singer’s admission that “I never knew how to give control”.
This last song, fashioned from rough power chords and choppy riffs, is a playful game due to Ramones, in which Hozie seems sick of being the protagonist of his own life, as he laments, “The employees of my ego they are on strike / Brothers and sisters you know what it is”.
Meanwhile, Pillar on the bridge of you is the first love song Hozie wrote for her partner Belfiglio, her modded foggy guitars born in the 80s.”I want to be a pillar in your deck / Salty waves hit me / Creation descends to my chin / The sea changes with ecstasy“, he sings with devotion.
Devotion to Bodega’s musical predecessors is perhaps most evident on All the old lovers. Slipping into a motorik rhythm, it stirs warm memories of The Strokes modern age EP released from Manhattan in 2001, most powerfully when it rocks into a tattered, patternless solo that will leave you thinking about how bad it was 21 years ago.
Final After Joan presents a less self-aware and more contemplative side to Bodega. It’s a brutally honest conversation between Hozie and his late mother, depicted in agony, unable to recognize her son. Gently strumming an acoustic guitar and joined by softly slapped drums and an EBow set, Hozie’s earnest conclusion is “I channel your heart when I sing my songs”.
And there are great songs on broken equipment, none stronger than the opening pair of the album. Although the 10 tracks that follow don’t always reach the same heights, there’s enough evidence here of a band expanding their horizons. Bodega’s second album not only indicates where they came from, but where they are headed.
broken equipment East out now.