by Alex Usher. Posted Wed 20 Jan 2021 15:00, last update: 21/01/21
Loud Maul from South London Shame return with a brooding and atmospheric series of songs that embody life almost perfectly in 2021.
Shame’s postponed second album is named after the shadow of pink singer Charlie Steen, who painted the inside of a neighbor in his home during a time of self-imposed isolation.
The same color is commonly used in drunken tanks and is known for its calming effects. ironic given the strained nature of the albums.
This self-imposed isolation was carried out by the entire band long before the rest of the world had to lock themselves up and was a reaction to their hectic lifestyle of touring and partying after their 2018 debut, Songs of Praise.
The Shame boys are run down, frustrated and tired, and these feelings are encapsulated in the band’s struggle with adulthood.
Although recorded before the pandemic and delayed release, Shame was able to capture what life is like in 2021 – a spiraling whirlwind of fear, monotony, and chaos.
Almost every sense of playfulness and color from Songs of Praise has evolved into a darker, more moody post-punk sound. “Color is slipping away / Exactly as always”, singer Charlie Steen sings frustrated about the troubled “Snow Day”.
On the track, the band tries their hand at Doomsday Rock, with aggressive vocals, twitching guitar licks and a mammoth sound. It’s refreshing to hear such a well-rounded sound on a second project. The track twists with a sense of sleep deprivation and isolation; Feelings I’m sure we all got used to it.
The final track, ‘Station Wagon’, is another slow burner that highlights the theatrical side of Steen, with a harrowing spoken word passage that howls over an ever-building instrumental.
‘Nigel Hitter’ has a strong Talking Head influence on Parquet Courts with his shimmering, almost funky guitar and darkly groovy bass line, while Steen sings about the repeatability of daily life and his frustration about it: “Will this day ever end? / I need a new beginning / It just goes on / It just goes on ”. The track feels like the beginning of the bands is going over the record into a depression as we just go deeper into the rabbit hole from here.
The outstanding track ‘Born in Luton’ begins with a touch of charm from Songs of Praise, but quickly turns into an explosion of irritation and loneliness through a sheer wall of sound.
This mature sound is partly due to the guidance of producer James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Foals), who took the band’s sound to a whole new level.
Shame like they push their limits, as well as the noises their instruments can make – just look for the siren-like guitar on ‘March Day’. Much like ‘Nigel Hitter’, ‘Water in the Well’ has a strong influence on talking heads, but offers a booming hook that already sounds timeless.
‘Great Dog’ is a frenzied number that refuses to take your foot off the gas before throwing you straight into the double punch of ‘6/1’ and ‘Harsh Degrees’.
Both tracks are filled with frenzied drumming that harnesses the energy of the previous track and works perfectly with creepy guitar licks that repeat over and over again.
Drunk Tank Pink isn’t full of catchy hooks that will stick in your brain for months, but what it does offer is an urgent artistic message that many could resonate with after a very busy year.
A 41-minute jump into a constant cycle of claustrophobic hopelessness probably shouldn’t be as exciting as it is, but Shame created something special with Drunk Tank Pink.
The record gets under your skin and sucks you into the bleak, boring life of the band while it is being recorded and it’s all the better for them.
The band have used Songs of Praise as a building block in innovating their sound and are without a doubt one of the most exciting bands in the UK right now.