Shame Present Exuberant & Moving Punk On Richly Dynamic Latest LP

Shame — a U.K. punk group who released their latest album, Drunk Tank Pink, via Dead Oceans this January — sound jubilant and strong.

The band performs richly dynamic punk rock that feels remarkably vibrant. The music is lively, with strong melodies and a consistent noisy edge but a smoothly propulsive energy holding the mix together. On the new record, Shame perform with a lot of electric forward motion, but they never sound particularly aggressive or downtrodden. Instead, their music feels like a chest-thumping communal shout, with a ragged edge in the sound but a consistent push ahead that makes the experience feel invigorating. It’s not overtly joyful, per se, at least in the sense of sticking to joy and joy alone, but the music feels like a refreshing splash, swaggering dynamics and all.

On this latest effort, Shame present distorted and hoarse riffing that lands with a clang alongside powerful drums, all of which feels quite resonant, with a real fullness in the sound. Charlie Steen, the band’s singer, moves through a poignant array of dynamics on the record, from energetic shouts to a soulful spoken word style of singing, and the instrumentation carries a feeling that’s quite similar. The music feels bellicose, but exuberant — it’s a grounded and great time.

Drunk Tank Pink never sticks to a particular point for very long, and the nearly constant movement helps establish the very real life feeling of the sound. It’s the kind of record that feels perfectly suited to an enriching live show experience and could make one miss times of singing together in a crowded bar in the absence of such opportunities.

“Nigel Hitter,” the record’s second track, features an off-kilter and subtly confrontational — but again, not overtly aggressive — swagger, while the concluding segment of follow-up track “Born in Luton,” which feels particularly standout, features a soulful and passionate vibe, like suddenly letting tension fall away and presenting an internal cry for recognition. The poignant lyrics help establish the song’s mood — at about the three minute mark, Steen movingly sings: “I’ve been waiting outside for all of my life, but now I’ve got to the door and no one’s inside,” and as the singer shares these urgent, passion-filled lines, the instrumentation shifts into a similarly straightforward and slowed down but emotionally intense feeling.

It’s like shouting at the sky in unison with friends and total strangers, and the album’s whole experience feels truly edifying.

5/5 Stars

Listen to Drunk Tank Pink below!