Label: Dead Oceans
Released: 15th January 2021
Way back at the beginning of 2018, Shame dropped one of the best debut albums we’d heard for ages, and then…they disappeared. Well, not really, they just played about a thousand live shows and then there was a national lockdown, so new music took an understandable backseat. Three years on, and with the tweets from fans ramping up from ‘banter’ to ‘abuse’ (Drummer Charlie Forbes’ words, not ours), they’ve decided it’s finally time to release their second album, titled ‘Drunk Tank Pink’. Unsurprisingly for anyone who’s listened to the first few singles, they’ve smashed it out of the park once again.
Opener ‘Alphabet’ blasts away the cobwebs and does its utmost to remind everyone just how good Shame are, standing apart from the slew of post-punk revival acts that came after them. Second track ‘Nigel Hitter’ is reminiscent of earlier song ‘The Lick’, a delightfully wonky few minutes which plays around with pacing and vocal styles in a ramshackle but incredibly catchy way.
This pairing of more straightforward, heavy-hitting bangers and slightly weirder outings that push at the boundaries of Shame’s sound is one that sums up the album as a whole. ‘Born in Luton’ (so that’s what ‘BIL’ stood for – Ed) is just aching for a big sweat-drenched singalong, while deeper in, the quiet introspection of ‘Human, For a Minute’ is eerie and compelling, vocalist Charlie Steen’s voice never rising above a soft murmur. By the time closing track ‘Station Wagon’ pulls into the driveway, its six-and-a-half-minute-runtime is well earned, rather than indulgent. It’s a slow-burning stream of consciousness that gives the band room to breathe and once again proves that they’re more than just a group of shouty lads.
Shame have always seemed destined for greatness and in hindsight, debut album ‘Songs of Praise’ came too soon for the band to tap into the now huge appetite for exactly the sound they pioneered as part of the South London Scene. ‘Drunk Tank Pink’ rectifies that mistake across eleven glorious tracks. Packed with energy, snark and absolute bangers, it goes above and beyond what their debut managed to achieve in every conceivable way. It’s rare that a band makes two genuinely great albums in a row, but come on, we’d all have put money on South London’s finest managing it – wouldn’t we?