If Seth MacFarlane collaborated with Trey Parker and Matt Stone to create a lo-fi, post-punk rock album, what would it sound like? If we had to make a guess, it would resemble Endless Scroll, which is BODEGA‘s incredibly witty, intelligent, and amusing debut album. Packed with 14 songs with only two exceeding the three-minute mark, the record is a cross-breed of Sonic Youth’s social and political critiques and early Parquet Courts’ jabbering, post-punk satire. And it is fun, engaging, entertaining, and awesome. It is also incredibly smart and poignant.
The album kicks off with the oft-kilter and rambunctious “How Did This Happen?!”. The throbbing bass line and drumming set the tone, resembling the great punk bands that once occupied CBGB’s in the ’70s. The tickling guitar strikes are reminiscent of Thurston Moore’s jangler work, and the lyrics, likewise, mirror the legend’s tone. Instead of unleashing their fury on politicians, BODEGA focus their attention on how materialism has consumed us, and how we put more energy in grabbing the latest sale than for fighting a social cause. As co-frontman Ben Hozie exclaims, “Your playlist knows you better than a closest lover”. Later in the tune, Nikki Belfiglio joins him to add:
“It’s the world now, don’t discriminate.
Everyone is equally a master and a slave.”
This is just a sample of the fantastic lyrics in Endless Scroll. Each tune has at least one memorable line, and some from front to back are terrifically written. For instance, the slightly funky “Name Escape” offers an amusing take on celebrity obsession and information overload. It begins with trying to remember the name of a famous singer, turns into a conversation between father and son about whether dad has hear the latest single by so-and-so, and then Hozie’s mind wanders to wondering what so-and-so’s face looks like while having sex. Bizarre yet so accurate.
Likewise, the quick-hitting and herky-jerky “I Am Not a Cinephile” tackles our constant dreaming of having a life like those seen in the movies, but we deny our obsession of a “richer life”. It bleeds into the satirical gem, “Can’t Knock the Hustle”, on which the band address capitalism. “Selling gluten free water with sugar in square of Union/Nine dollars an hour”, holler BODEGA’s two leads. A slightly different take of profiteering is adopted on the catchy “Warhol”, who the band describe as “the best artist is a business man”. As such, go ahead and “snap a picture” because you never know what it might yield.
Everyone and everything imaginable are open for discussion and humor on Endless Scroll. With Belfiglio taking the lead, “Gyrate” explains the pleasures and sensations of female masturbation. The ideal man, on the other hand, is the focus of “Jack In Titanic”, who is also teased on the track.
“And I’ll tell you that no one shows devotion when they’re down on their knees quite like me,
Except maybe Jack in Titanic.
And no one sees your state of grace with light through the leaves like I see,
Except Jack in Titanic.”
There are darker moments in the album, such as the wickedly moody and downtrodden “Boxes for the Move”. As the chiming guitar lingers in the background, Hozie addresses the tension between two plays. Specifically, he explains how he is “Lying to my best friend, at least I’ll do a good job for the move”. On “Margot”, which features a great Depeche Mode-like rhythm section, the band address the growing voyeurism of today’s world, and how thousands of woman are victims to men’s predatory behaviors.
BODEGA return to more light-hearted fare with the groovy and rollicking “Bookmarks”. They address how our lives revolve around our computers and cellphones. Everything we want to accomplish, including when we go “meet our maker”, centers around accomplishing what’s on the pixelated monitor. A touch of Velvet Underground and Lou Reed permeates on “Williamsburg Bridge”. It’s arguably the band’s most serious and introspective tune, as they address what freedom means. The songwriting is superb and filled with great political and history imagery, such as:
“I saw the ferry that we boated to Ellis.
Saw your heritage in stone on the shelf.
They flocked to this rock for the freedom to roam.
Now history’s repeating itself.
Yeah, history’s repeating itself.”
The album also ends on both a high and serious note with “Truth Is Not Punishment”. The song is the most energetic and rollicking on the album, reminiscent of the rock ‘n roll of the late ’60s and ’70s. It’s a barn burner that will get people off their seats. Yet Hozie’s lyrics are reflective and challenging, as he address the concept of reality through the eyes of his mother, a “writer with an anxiety complex”, and his own.
The closer is much more than just another song. It also captures the entire album’s concept – about the many things that imprison us in this surreal world. Some of it is our external world, such as our jobs and the appetites of the powerful. In most cases, however, we are our own worst enemies. How we perceive the world, our many obsessions and compulsions, and our over-dependence on technology dictate our routines. Sure Endless Scroll is full of wit, satire, and human. At its essence, however, it is an album about humanity – or its decay. The last laugh, as such, is on us, and it’s taken a terrific album to make us realize it. It’s taken a great young band to make us understand.
BODEGA are Ben Hozie, Nikki Belfiglio, Montana Simone, Heather Elle, and Madison Velding-VanDam. They are currently in Europe until July 20th. They return to North America for an abbreviated tour on July 29th and ending August 14th in Vancouver. Dates and information are available here.
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