My parents were stalwart parishioners of the Cherryland Center Mall, a now dead, defunct mall in Traverse City, Michigan. They once brought my sister and I to the inner hallways, which hadn’t housed interior storefronts in years, a result of the desert of the mall parking lot swaying anyone’s desire to even go near the decaying cream-colored building. All the current stores are slowly dwindling, their existence demonstrated at a far distance from the main road. Even the Grand Traverse Mall, the Cherryland’s larger and more popular counterpart, regularly has retail stores filtered in and out. I find dead/dying malls fascinating, particularly because I’ve always felt like a ghost in them, never quite knowing what to do when my mom wanted to spend two hours shopping between Gap and Old Navy. I never found the mall to be a fun place to go, but maybe this simply reinforced my lack of desire to fit in there.
This week’s record, “All or Nothing,” by post-punk trio, Shopping, is a jaunt through mall air conditioning during the summer. The stylish, accentuated production assists in fleshing out Shopping’s minimalist tone, and the bass guitar often sounds pretty funky, too.
“All or Nothing” is bright, fun, and collaborates with the sensibilities of Shopping’s queer inclusivity. Some of their songs are upbeat enough (and the vocals dynamic enough) that I can’t help but think Shopping is what Sleater-Kinney would sound like as a post-punk band. The songwriting tight, and the melodies eccentric, “All or Nothing” is a seminal excuse for what makes the genre accessible yet invigorating. It’s super catchy, welcoming, and is a record you can become best friends with, meandering aimlessly around a glossy mall, maybe getting lost in Macy’s along the way.
Nevertheless evasive of hordes of cliques, I still enjoy shopping to a degree. I’ll buy perfume on a whim from T.J. Maxx, contemplate a used CD at FYE, or find a lavishly colorful sweater I economically don’t need on my body, but so voraciously want. The families surrounding me, the high schoolers and the young couples, all situated at the mall to either walk or casually browse, have a weird effect on me. Since I prefer to become lost in the mall, my mission to find what I’m looking for escapes me after a while. Perhaps most of us aren’t there to find anything, but to drain the artificial light from each and every ceiling, dirty every tacky patterned tile. Until our mall dies, our purpose in its sprawling arms is nothing other than to be. Or, to exist, with some lack of dimension in our step.