shame - Drunk Tank Pink
Jan 15, 2021 (updated Feb 19, 2021)
Despite not venturing too far away from the typical post-punk formula and definitely being a bit inspired by their contemporaries, Drunk Tank Pink is a great maturation for Shame, a band I previously saw to be a humdrum display of generic post-punk finally coming into their own.

Shame’s debut album, 'Songs of Praise', was an album that many loved, though I merely thought it was an average post-punk record. The album did very little to stick out in a sea of post-punk albums that already didn’t stick out. Worse than that, phenomenal writing aside, the album was a bit on the boring side. Drowning in their contemporary influences, they churned out lackluster tunes that were fine post-punk tracks, but nothing more than that. The album barely left an impact on me whatsoever, detached from a few specific songs.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Chode, why did you just shit on their previous album so much when you enjoy this one?” Well, it’s simple: I believe Drunk Tank Pink not only escapes the trap of the sophomore slump many modern-day artists find themselves slipping into but also finds the band discovering and establishing a unique voice within their respective genre.

Channeling everything I enjoy about bands such as Protomartyr and IDLES, Shame unleashes their unrestrained rage onto the listener through a collection of the most uncompromising post-punk tracks to grace my ears in recent memory. While Charli Steen isn’t necessarily the best vocalist in current punk, he carries a level of sarcasm and animation with his vocals that deviates him enough for him to stand out when put against other vocalists, sounding tremendously manic as he delivers his lines. Moreover, to add to Steen’s distraught vocal inflections, the album tackles Steen’s struggle with anxiety and confidence with himself, a problem only amplified by a culmination of the mental stress being put onto him through his packed touring schedule, transitioning into quarantine, and the rapid growth of the band's popularity; going from a small indie band to accumulating hundreds of thousands of Spotify monthly listeners, getting Pitchfork co-signs, and selling out tours can be tough to come to terms with at first. Facing this dilemma, Steen locked himself into a pink room of solitude having nobody to conversate with but himself. He knew that he had to face the problem head-on through forceful song-writing, and he does so on 'Drunk Tank Pink'.

The chaos continues compostionally with an instrumental backdrop as aggressive and anxious as Steen, firing at all cylinders with layered instrumentation and barrages of disquieted guitars that constantly feel like they're closing in on the listener. Twists-and-turns are thrown in at every corner to keep the album feeling fresh and unpredictable, never letting it get confined into one specific place. It’s a sound pallet perfectly suited for Steen’s perturbed ramblings.

'Snow Day' uses its loose song structure and uneasy feel to create a song in the vein of Black Country, New Road, 'Human, for a Minute' is a hushed moment of reflection for Steen, 'Harsh Degrees' and 'Water in the Well' are both catchy beyond belief with their use of off-the-rocker vocal inflections and groovy riffs, 'Station Wagon' ends the album off with a climactic cacophony of noisy guitars, consuming noise, and emotion. The album’s worst moments are the ones where Shame seems lacking in originality. Tracks such as 'Alphabet', 'Nigel Hitter', and 'March Day' reek too much of the influences they are so obviously pulling from, post-punk bands both old and new. So you could make the assumption that this album is not Shame born anew, and I would only agree to some extent. While Shame has not fully escaped its old habits, the band finds itself at a place where it’s at the most captivating and determined it has ever been, and as a result, they finally have me singing songs of praise for them.

Light 8/10

Favorite Tracks: Born in Lutton, Water in Well, Snow Day, Human for a Minute, 6/1, Harsh Degrees, Station Wagon

Worst Track: Alphabet
Jan 15, 2021
someone tag me when chode misses
Jan 15, 2021
I'm not sure how you got Model Village from the main riff on Alphabet, they have completely different sounds and timing to me. I also don't get much Fontaines from Nigel Hitter, it sounds pretty distinctly shame to me. I think people end up falling in the trap of seeing all these modern post-punk bands as sonically similar even when they're all taking inspiration from different ends of traditional post-punk. That's just me though!
Jan 15, 2021
Yeah I think this album is more in the vain of Women, This Heat and Talking Heads. Post punk is such a huge umbrella term it feels like. Nice review tho!
Jan 15, 2021
@MasterCrackfox I relistened to the track, and yeah, I honestly don't know why I was making the riff comparison I was making towards Model Village tbh, it's just the flow they're using that sounds like the one on Model Village.
Jan 15, 2021
@chutbarn Thanks!
Jan 15, 2021
@Chode Hey that'll happen! It's hard to notice all the little bits from first impressions. Like I said, I think our mind kind of naturally compares it to the most recent examples of post-punk and tries to find the parallels.
Jan 15, 2021
good review disliked
Jan 15, 2021
I agree with you so much regarding your 3rd paragraph. This album ultimately establishes shame identity within the contemporary post punk scene.
Jan 15, 2021
chode keep winning
Jan 15, 2021
@landalt i misread that as "chode keep whining" and i was so confused for a moment lmao
Jan 18, 2021
"Alphabet" sounds like Protomartyr
"Nigel Hitter" sounds like Squid
"Born in Luton" sounds like Black Midi
"March Day" sounds like Pottery
"Water in the Well" sounds like Charlie is straight up doing an SNL-esque impression of other over the top post punk vocalists.
etc, etc...

I really enjoyed this album but when it ended and Spotify continued on to their debut I was like "oh good, Shame's back, who were those other bands?"

If anything this release pushes them straight into the mix with every other "typical post-punk" band. Any identity they had in the first album is nearly gone (save for maybe "Human" or "Station Wagon"). I hope this doesn't become the trend because I'm still very excited about this group's potential and they are one of my favorite live shows, but they are NOT defining a unique sound with this album at all.
Jan 18, 2021
@IsakTheBaron I agree with March Day, Nigel Hitter, and Alphabet sounding generic (hence why they're not in my favorite tracks), but I'm not really seeing anything that makes Born in Luton a black midi ripoff. Sure, it's pretty multifaceted and the general sound of the guitars is a tad bit like one's black midi would use, but it doesn't ring to me as "close enough to black midi that it would get mistaken for a black midi song". As for Water in Well, I don't really think it sounds like it's an SNL impression of punk vocalists. It's eccentric and manic but in a good way imo. I do think it has a bit of a rough start, I'll agree on that, but I do think this album overall has a much more unique and original sound than Songs of Praise did.

Either way, agree to disagree
Jan 28, 2021
mr chode is this album worth a listen?
Jan 28, 2021
@Pio I'd say check it out. It's definitely flawed but still a great listen.
Jan 28, 2021
@Chode- THANKS FOR 1000 Will do man, thanks for the follow btw
2d ago
When the worst track is still a track I loved, you know you've got a good album on your hands
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