Punk rabble Shame make light work of living up to their reputation.
Label: Dead Oceans
Released: 12th January 2018
Labelled repeatedly as one of Britain’s most exciting new bands, punk rabble Shame make light work of living up to their reputation on a debut album that’s as becoming as it is impetuous. ‘Songs of Praise’ is a statement of identity, carving out a space free from the so-called South London scene, for the five-piece to deliver exactly what it is they have to say.
At its front end, the record bristles with aggression, capturing the exhilarating buzz of the outfit’s live shows. On ‘Concrete’ vocalist Charlie Steen and bassist Josh Finerty bounce lyrics off one another over guitars raring to go, detailing frustration that comes with times of emotional turmoil. ‘One Rizla’ is more melodic, but unmistakably Shame – “You can choose to hate my words / but do I give a fuck?” Steen spits.
Their lyrics are what give the group an edge over other noise-rock contemporaries; under the angst and the clamour there are sensitive observations of society and culture through a young and compassionate eye. Never ones to back away from voicing their politics (even going so far as to release a Theresa May diss track titled ‘Visa Vulture’ last year) ‘…Praise’ is rife with a host of razor-sharp quips. But it’s the lurid, Mark E. Smith-reminiscent monologue of ‘The Lick’ which is a notable highlight, albeit a filthy one. Over a bassline as menacing as a hungry wolf, jaws agape, the stench of “silicone paint” is almost tangible.
The music speaks for itself. Given a deserved facelift since its release as a rawer demo, ‘Tasteless’ thunders relentlessly while Lampoon ratchets up the tempo, a high-octane beast of a song that seems more than ready to gorge itself on whatever it can grab hold of. There’s even unexpected sensitivity on the final track ‘Angie’, seven divine minutes of passion built around an almost shoegazey riff. Make no mistake, Shame have had their crosshairs set firmly on dirty splendour for some time, and ‘Songs of Praise’ is their bullseye. Alex Cabré