Shame - Drunk Tank Pink
I didn't initially intend on reviewing this album. Although I am a fan of Shame's music, fully respect their playing and completely understand the hype of their debut, it didn't resonate cohesively with me. However, after listening to their recent follow up 'Drunk Tank Pink' I have felt it do just that. The more I listen the more I appreciate what they have created and the more I feel compelled to write about it.
Ever since they released the first single from the record I knew there was something different here. It offered more musical technicality and felt more considered, yet just as forceful. This trend continued through the whole album. From start to finish it feels extremely thought out and less a stream of angsty outbursts that came from 'Songs of Praise'. Not to say I didn't like the songs from that album, some of them were true modern day Punk innovations but it seems clear that 'Drunk Tank Pink' gels together more seamlessly as a whole. Perhaps this is to be expected from a second record as the first is a more a conglomeration of tracks they have been developing since the band's inception whereas this new materiel was created and developed in one space on one timeline.
When listening to almost any song from the new album, the first thing that strikes me is the instrumental finesse, particularly the work of drummer Charlie Forbes. I would argue that it is actually the drumming that gives this album its depth of character and keeps it constantly moving forward. Tracks like 'Snow Day' and '6/1' see the dull toned yet intricate rolling patterns provide a bed for Charlie Steen's Punk preacher vocals to dance on top of. Yet it is not the drums alone that create the thick gritty textures of the album. The interplay between all band members builds an instrumental camaraderie that makes every non-vocal space just as captivating as the lyrics. This camaraderie also gives a lot of the album a more upbeat feel. This is not to say by any means that they are happy songs; they still all contain a sinister underbelly but display an audible admittance that the band enjoy playing them. This is apparent from the very first track 'Alphabet' that repeats the line "are you ready to feel good?" and by the end of the energy fueling song you can only give one reply.
As well as an improved musical technicality, 'Drunk Tank Pink' is filled with a new self-assurance that allows the record to guide you through it at its own pace. You can never be sure what is coming but you feel confident that it will be exactly what you wanted. 'Born In Luton' is perhaps the highlight of the record, changing direction at just the right moments. The tracks feel loose but never lost and most importantly never rushed. They leave time to build the atmospheric surroundings they feel necessary, sometimes surprising you with the speed of delivery and sometimes surprising you with the patience taken to create a more expansive sound. The record's closer 'Station Wagon' best displays this, luring you into a gentle swaying finish before developing into a cataclysmic whirlwind of introspection and raucous passion to see out their second album with a confident and appropriate grandiosity.