There’s a strand of indie rock that rose up in the early 2010s that went beyond slacker nostalgia and seemed based around a rejection of the technological advances that came about as a result of late-stage capitalism. It’s not hard to see why this happened: the accelerationist nature of Silicon Valley and its infiltration into every facet of art and entertainment distribution. Thus, we get bands like Parquet Courts (as an example), who play a style of music that is not only defiantly retro but whose actions and songs are geared toward spurning the constant connectivity of modern life. Brooklyn’s Bodega take things a step further with Endless Scroll, making the subtext of this kind of music into plain text with an album about the emptiness of a world lived on screens.
What Bodega are writing about on Endless Scroll isn’t new ground in 2018. Hell, just last year, a far bigger band stumbled over themselves with a grand ironic gesture of an album about how Everything Now is much worse with technology. However, Bodega wisely don’t approach their subject with a wry, sardonic side-eye, but with are more sincere intensity.
Opener “How Did This Happen!?” offers a mission statement for the band, laying out the world of constant content consumption as a sort of surreal Hell presented with Ben Hozie’s Richman-esque drawl, all presented with the awareness that Bodega themselves may yet be consumed in the content machine. Further on, the band pick up the tempo and offer something more akin to punk anger with the likes of “I Am Not a Cinephile” and “Gyrate”, the latter of which is presented with a riot-grrrl snottiness that’s very much a welcome addition to proceedings.
Credit has to be given to Bodega for the ambitiousness of their lyrical ideas and the energy that is very much present on Endless Scroll, but if the album has any failing, it lies in how monochromatic the whole experience is. Aside for the aforementioned “Gyrate” and quieter, poppy moments like “Jack in Titanic” and “Williamsburg Bridge”, Bodega rely on tried-and-tested formulas for composing songs. Not that there’s anything especially wrong with consistent songwriting in one genre or tone, but the songs on Endless Scroll have a habit of blending into each other over time, which only serves to lessen the impact of what they’ve written in their lyrics. When one considers that Endless Scroll only lasts a bit longer than a half-hour, it makes for a too-short experience that calls for more than what’s provided.
There are flashes of promise scattered throughout Endless Scroll: Bodega play with seemingly boundless energy, and it’s clear that they’re approaching their ideas from a place of sincerity rather than pomposity. Yet, while their heads and hearts are in the right place, there’s something somewhat lacking in the execution on Endless Scroll. Perhaps Bodega will eventually create something that accurately summarizes our content-focused existence and kicks us out of our collective stupor. As it stands, though, Endless Scroll is merely a kinda-good album doomed to get lost in the content thickets.