BODEGA – ‘Broken Equipment’ review: sardonic punks find a melodic edge

The New York band's second album sees their wiry, sceptical post-punk slowly giving way to warmer, more romantic ideas

New York City’s BODEGA have always described themselves as openly and shamelessly pretentious, presenting wordy ideas on philosophy and millennial existence atop post-punk descended from The Fall and fellow New Yorkers Parquet Courts. Accordingly, they formed a book club ahead of their second album ‘Broken Equipment’, as well as recruiting a philosophy professor to play bass guitar.

The brilliance of the band – anchored by vocalists Ben Hozie and Nikki Belfiglio – is how they incorporate these influences but avoid making impenetrable, overly literate music in the process. Instead, the pair employ sardonic one-liners and cover it all in sugary post-punk goodness to invite you in.

‘Broken Equipment’, which follows 2018 debut ‘Endless Scroll’ and the following year’s ‘Shiny New Model’ EP, starts off on a familiar track for the band. On the wiry, sprechgesang post-punk of  ‘Doers’, Hozie gets caught up in a spiral of doom-scrolling (“ten minutes TED Talk / ten minutes Notepad / ten minutes Amazon / ten minutes planning my next ten minutes”) and a culture encouraging non-stop work (“Innovation waits for no man / Unless I forget my dongle!”), before flipping Daft Punk’s iconic chant upside down. The lifestyle is making him “bitter, harder, fatter, stressed out”.

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While this sing-speaking defines the album’s first three tracks, the band soon travel to more melodic places, where feeling overtakes thinking as the primary influence behind the tracks. It’s a change that feels revolutionary for the band. Though they’re still ground down by religion, work, technology and those in power, when the tracks are sung and not yelled – like on the brilliantly catchy ‘NYC (Disambiguation)’ and ‘Seneca The Stoic’ – their anger also unearths catharsis, and even joy.

It’s the same on the Belfiglio-sung highlight ‘Statuette On The Console’, which the band released in nine different languages ahead of sharing the full album. The song, she says, is about slowly shedding the ideas put upon you by society across your life and developing your own belief system. The instantly gratifying indie-pop sheen it’s presented in feels precisely as ecstatic as the process of finally figuring out who you really are.

‘Broken Equipment’ also features the first love song Hozie has ever written for his partner Belfiglio – ‘Pillar On The Bridge Of You’ – and ends with ‘After Jane’, a delicate, heartbreaking acoustic track written as a conversation between Hozie and his late mother, who passed away around the time of the band’s first album.

It’s a striking and welcome way to end the album, and for a band with complex philosophies and critical theories to burn, BODEGA’s most vital moments come when they lower their guard down and just let it all out.

Details

  • Release date: March 11
  • Record label: What’s Your Rupture?
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