Sophomore albums can make or break a band. They can revel in a particular sound or reveal new ones. They can be an epic display of who an artist is or go through the motions of the debut. While it would be ludicrous to hope that South London’s shame would repeat the tone of their debut Songs Of Praise, their new album Drunk Tank Pink holds some of the core values. It’s still post punk in genre, it still has dizzying moments of energy yet it’s far beyond what the band did on their debut. Where we loved Songs Of Praise, we admire and revel in what the band does on Drunk Tank Pink.
Opening the album is the off-kilter sound of “Alphabet.” The song has all of the inventive sounds you’d expect while delivering the music in a more creative way than the typical post punk band. Where shame stands apart from the herd is that they bring their own touches to the genre rather than copy someone else’s interpretation of it. This rings true throughout the album. The crazed energy that boils underneath on “Nigel Hitter” where the band forges their own path. With “Born in Luton” where they take neo-disco rhythms and forge them into a post punk narrative, the band is firing on all cylinders here. They’re post punk but they’re also not sewn into the fabric where many of the bands sound the same. shame is doing their own thing here and it works.
The way the vocals and drums open up “Water in the Well” is a great example of how they’re signalling a new post punk sound. The storied way in which they go dark and slow on “Human, for a Minute” where they extend their sound without missing a beat. And of course the echoing tones that close out the album with “Station Wagon.” However there’s three songs all together here that are almost a rally cry for change in the genre while containing a quick and punchy pacing.
This begins on “Great Dog” that hits hard like a fevered fight in the street at 4 a.m. Quick and snappy with sneering vocals that have a disarrayed sound like a neighbor who’s pissed that you dated his daughter. “6/1” keeps the snappy stride going with an alarmed guitar tone that holds plenty of melodic touches to become its own thing. It’s quick and pyretic as the band holds it together like glue. The final of the three “Harsh Degrees” is the best song of the album. The movements here feel off pace until you listen closely. The swag back and forth like a push pull as the vocals are in an almost different time signature that creates its own thing. It works and expands on the band’s debut. Drunk Tank Pink is just better in terms of growth and creativity.
Drunk Tank Pink is available for preorder on various formats and in various bundles from Dead Oceans ahead of its release tomorrow. It will also be available to purchase from all digital outlets or to stream on all platforms. shame will be on tour beginning on February 18 in Bedford, UK at Bedford Esquires until November 26 in Bristol, UK at SWX. Their complete tour schedule is accessible here.
Image Credits: Photo by Sam Gregg.