There is no doubt that the tracks found in Shoplifters will make you groove to their beachy sound. The instrumentation is heavy on electric guitar and drum. The electric guitar starts off every song on the EP. Percussive elements such as the full kit or cymbals usually enter after one or two measures. Even as Zebeeb Awalom’s smooth soprano voice quickly follows in, the drums and guitar continue to be a primary focus of each track. In half of the songs (“By the Moon,” “Wasting Time,” “Temporary Love”), the guitar takes on a beachy jazz vibe. In the other three tracks (“Direct Affect”; “Bleack Sea”; “She Told Me”), the guitar gives off more of a rock and roll flavor. In each track off the album, the drums deliver the driving beat that brings the tracks home. I particularly enjoy the use of the pounding cymbals in “By the Moon.” Overall, the instrumentation delivers a perfect summertime rock and roll/ jazz feel through the electric guitar and drum power-duo.
Honestly, one thing I didn’t notice at first was the well-targeted lyrics of Shoplifters. The lyrics found in the EP’s six tracks all speak to common issues felt by teens and twenty-somethings alike. The album covers scenarios like falling asleep as you wait for a long-anticipated phone call (“By The Moon”), the struggles of breaking up with someone that just won’t get it (“Wasting Time”), and what you’re thinking when you’re drowning in a sea of infatuation (“Direct Affect”; “Temporary Love”).
The most brilliant aspect of the already engaging lyrics is the particularly relatable wording. For example in “Wasting Time”, the narrator attempts to convince the other person in the relationship that “I will waste your time” so let’s just part, through using iconic phrases like “Don’t take it personal/ It’s not you, it’s me.” Let’s face it, most of us have either used that tactic or have had it used on us sometime in the last twenty years. Similarly, the lyrics of “Direct Affect” and “Temporary Love” sound like they flew right out of a couple of my old sappy love poems. Phrases like, “You got this affect on me/ And I just can’t hide it” (“Direct Affect”) and “I waste nights trying to chase you/ You’re so close I can taste you” (“Temporary Love”) have most likely graced the pages of your diaries and love poems as well. The direct, unadorned lyrics found in Shoplifters drive home the band’s relatable sound.
Shoplifters delivers an appeal for those who desire to groove to rock music infused with a beachy jazz vibe. The EP also contains well-written lyrics that reinforce the emotions felt by many of us millenials. All in all, The Gray Company’s Shoplifters is a well-crafted EP. —Krisann Janowitz