Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline is a collection of B-sides, outtakes, and live radio sessions courtesy of Gomez. Interestingly, this collection allows Gomez to better define themselves as a band by allowing them to indulge in some of their more experimental tendencies. "Emergency Surgery" is a fine example, with its treated vocals and electro-dub musical setting. The freaky loops and overall bizarre production of "Steve McCroski" belie its live in the studio origins. Production touches are more subtle on "Flavors" but still give an other-worldly feel.
The familiar is rendered unfamiliar with "We Haven't Turned Around getting a radical reworking with the X-ray mix. The vocal track takes center stage, accented by a bowed bass loop and Mellotron reminiscent of the intro to "Strawberry Fields Forever." "78 Stone Wobble" from Bring It On becomes "78 Stone Shuffle" when played live in the studio; the lyrics are the same, but the song has been reinvented.
"Bring Your Lovin' Back Here" gets back to that "classic Gomez" sound, as does the eight-plus minute "Buena Vista," despite its Flock of Seagulls-esque guitar intro. The Beatles' "Getting Better" is also included, and sounds much better (and more like Gomez) in its entirety than excerpted on that commercial.
Despite the fact that this is a collection of odds and ends, Abandoned Shopping Trolley Hotline holds together remarkably well as an album, due to good track selection and intelligent segueing; in fact, some of the songs actually run together quite smoothly, with no break between songs. Rarely does a rock band forge such a strong identity so early in their career. This collection shows Gomez to be an extremely self-indulgent band, but their instincts are so good they pull it off without a hitch. (Initial pressings include the five-song Machismo EP as a bonus disc.)