Articulated around psychology and anxiety, Drunk Tank Pink is not only a successful second album, it's a consequent evolution for the London band. Shame's youngsters have grown up, now facing their demons through an intense and deep post punk.
In a corner of my head I still have this memory of the moment I first listened to Shame, it was precisely in January 2018 on the day of the release of Songs of Praise, which soon conquered me. A raw energy ready to explode that the band tries to contain with introspection, melancholy, sincerity and political commitment, offering the hottest content of a winter month. As a good grouch that I am, always looking for innovation, I had to swallow my pride again and tell myself that Post-Punk is not about to disappear, prisoner of the infinite for our greatest happiness. And why want that after all, if punk always has something interesting to say and do it's simply that it's a loyal and poetic music that comes from the heart, tracing all the nervousness, anxiety and anger we sometimes have inside us. Already dreadfully executed, Songs Of Praise remains to this day a really solid debut album for the natives of South London who were barely in their twenties. A promising writing wisdom, but which on the other hand also shows the limits of their music. If what they managed to achieve is remarkable, the wait around the second album works like a kind of life-size test, where the concretization is perhaps already acquired especially when we listen to Snow Day, one of the extracts of Drunk Tank Pink. Already that the excitement and curiosity has reached a temperature close to combustion, it's important first of all to stop on Snow Day, a breathtaking neurasthenic single that already makes me say that Shame has one of their best songs to date, while consolidating his new direction Art Punk / Post Hardcore / Dance Punk. Just by focusing already on the demented rhythmics offered by Charlie Forbes and Josh Finerty is already simply dazzling, but if you look at this divine writing, the articulation and progression of the song's structure, ending with Charlie Steen's stormy rendition, I thought for a moment I needed a chest massage to get back into it.
Finally, it is striking to see the intelligence of the communication that Shame has been able to establish, delivering little by little since September 2020, a handful of singles that announce precisely the new direction Shame is taking from several different angles, showing that the group is not confined to a single, repeated formula. This is clearly also the observation that one makes when listening to Drunk Tank Pink as much musically as in the conception process. The time of tours and concerts that used to be their daily routine is for the moment resolved, leaving room for new contexts and new problems. It's crazy to such an extent that we don't constantly measure what this extraordinary period has been able to transform our whole lives (and it just goes on and on). Questioning, parasitized by uncertainty and anguish remains the backbone of Drunk Tank Pink, it's as if everything is connected. The artistic and poetic ambition to face one's own demons and to know how to tame them is constantly present as a goal that Shame's members seek to achieve. Behind the rhythmics and the fun chords at first glance, there is precisely this impression of a survival race, but the sinister atmosphere that emanates from each song actually makes you feel the real sensations of what the band is musically transpiring. It's a bit like a mixture of nervous energy close to heart failure and that feeling of oppression like a tortured mind.
Drunk Tank Pink is therefore a very psychological album, and while the overall idea is taking shape and guessing each time, Shame has managed to build a second album with 11 songs, each one telling a different story without losing any correlation and homogeneity. The progression in the band's writing is undeniably one of the first things that jumps out. Just listen to the latest single Nigel Hitter or the devastating outroduction Station Wagon to understand the versatility and developed imagination of the young Londoners. On the one hand you have Nigel Hitter, a song that uses just the right jumping structures, animated by a punk dance spirit while Station Wagon is a more spacious sound adventure that gets lost in the mental torture of the human mind. I must admit that Station Wagon remains my favourite among the new releases. Its progressive execution, articulated around an angelic piano and delicious poetry, coming to complete this second album is simply fantastic. Personally I think that Drunk Tank Pink is actually a better album than its previous one, showing an evolution in all areas. A step backwards not being possible, depending on the context, it is normal that Shame is a bit lost from their naivety and raw energy of the past, to look at much more mature reflections and writing through a musical progression, both in interpretation and in his new directions. It's rare to have on a 40 minutes album where there's nothing to throw away, I'm very satisfied with the band's work, the question remains whether Drunk Tank Pink will resist time from now on, in order to be part of the emblematic "isolation" albums of our sad period that we're living through. For me it has almost all the ingredients to become one.