Bodega scrubbed some of the rough edges off their jumpy, hyperactive dance punk sound for their 2019 EP Shiny New Model -- not enough to dull the songs' impact, just enough to help their serrated edges slide in more smoothly and deeply. The band are tighter than a bad toupee, the hooks are shinier than a disco ball, and the little bit of speed they take off the tempos gives the songs some breathing room. The title track is a fine example of how their new, more restrained approach pays off. Instead of bashing the listener and then running off madly while daring them to follow, the band and the listener lock into a simpatico groove that's set off with jangling guitars, Ben Hozie's swaggering vocals, Nikki Belfiglio's excited interjections, and some beefy guitar playing. They dial the tempos down to simmer on a few tracks -- like the almost-slinky "Treasures of the Ancient World" and the dark post-punk mood piece "Knife on the Platter" -- and that works just as well. The highlight of the album is the rollicking "Truth Is Not Punishment," a track that fuses their powerful new sound with some smart lyrics, singalong melodies, and an irresistible beat. It comes in two flavors: a short version that punches hard for three and a half minutes and an extended one that lets the song unspool for over ten minutes of rubbery bass, indefatigable drums, and some six-string exploration. Shiny New Model definitely lives up to the title. The EP takes the best parts of the band's debut (their energy and snarky lyrics), adds dynamic tension and focus, and ends up being just a little better and just a little more exciting.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra