shame did it. the band completely changed their sound to exhilarating results. this album should truly be considered a classic. this is modern post-punk at the highest level. shame’s sound is extremely versatile, and they create an overall journey of songs.
“alphabet” oozes with solid energy to kick off the album. the instrumentals are reminiscent of shame’s last album, although one can tell that the band has evolved with time. the drums are really on point, and hold the song together through the chaos. the two guitars are nerve wracking because, at times, they are purposefully mismatched. at other times, the sound of one guitar blends into the background and becomes lost in the chaos. it is a blend of british rock and post-punk that works well as an opening track.
“nigel hitter” is an LCD soundsystem-esque alternative dance track. it features slightly deranged vocals similar to james murphy. the drums steady things out. the alternating guitars and strong vocals give this song indie feels. the guitars have a southern twang toward the middle of the song that sounds like Cake. by the last 30 seconds, finerty goes off with some hardcore-type bass.
“born in luton” - originally titled “BiL” -has an odd format and often changes styles as result. it begins as a dark 80s track before slowing down and building intensity. the chorus/slower section is interesting. then the song gains speed as the band is rhythmically jamming. steen slowly proclaims,
“i’ve been waiting outside for all my life
And now i’ve got to the door there’s no one inside”
this has the dramatic intensity of something life changing. the epic instrumentation reflects that. charlie has been waiting his whole life for something and it’s not there. that lack of people is represented in the music: things slow down until there’s nothing left. no sound.
then the guitars drop in and quietly increase their volume. the drums slowly kick and roll in. steen gives a hella emotional performance to craft this indie rock, post-punk gem.
“march day” finds charlie steen stuck in his room, unable to sleep. he eventually takes sleeping pills, and the experience is reflected through the music.
“close my eyes, take the pills
now all i do is just lie still”
this song serves as an unnatural lullaby. the outro is full of the same phrase being repeated over and over as if he’s trying to fall asleep. for the duration of the song, the narrator is actually attempting to sleep. by the end, it’s unclear if he has.
“water in the well” is a fantastic song. it feels genreless. it is one of the lead singles for its rhythmic prowess. the backing vocals are full of clear harmonies to help take an edge off steen’s rough voice.
the main riff is continually in motion. the flow of the verses is punchy and timely. the full band gets in on the vocals for “water in the well”, resulting in the vocals standing out. the song is quick and really tight. overall, this track is a catchy one that’s quite memorable.
“snow day” begins with a minor key, sad guitar. it contains shouting and doomy music, which reminds me of Daughters. there’s deep bass and some emotional clashing of instrumentation. steen takes his time to annunciate and get his lyrics across. his dark, spoken word style is one of shame’s signature sounds.
the second line goes, “its cold but i’ve been colder”. i feel that is the mentality of the entire song. having to get through something that’s tough, but not unbearable. the detailed descriptions give the track a psychedelic edge. steen’s voice feels holy, as if steen’s in a universe that he himself created.
the song drips with power and noise. everything about the song is carefully calculated, as this track is incredibly well made. the instruments are completely together, and the drums are stunningly all over the place. this is refined math rock mixed with noise and indie. the song gets high stakes and the drums sound relentlessly dense.
“human, for a minute” is a soothingly dark cut from ‘drunk tank punk’. the song gets relaxing and hypnotic, retaining a shoegaze energy. the almost otherworldly factor of the song is that it’s so pure and calm. shame are not usually in those categories. for british band shame, there’s typically a lot going on, almost an overwhelming amount of sound. this song is opposite. it’s the shame equivalent of a slow jam, and it really works. it’s produced by James Ford, who does an amazing job. the effects throughout the instruments leave the listener with a sense of completeness. steen sings, “i never felt human before you”. his vulnerability and emotion are apparent, rather than his usual rage.
“great dog” clocks in at just under two minutes. it’s an aggressive track that was originally called “another”. it’s also a banger. the instrumentation immediately opens with some harsh overtones. there’s fast chaos ensuing as the song feels mentally unstable, almost mad. steen’s delivery is forceful, as the vocals are practically rage rapping. there is lots of fast paced anger throughout the song. “great dog” serves as an intro to
“6/1”. an aggressively immersive and engaging cut. it’s a protest track at heart, and that intensity is preserved throughout the song. it’s another well thought out, math rock number.
the vocal performance is stupid good. there is a key moment that reminds me of interpol: when the vocals clock in after a half minute and the performance is grappling the listener in. steen’s broken heart and soul are on full display throughout his gut wrenching performance. he makes some bold claims such as,
“i pray to no god
i am god”
“i represent everything i hate
yet im the person i always dreamt i could become”
when steen vocalizes “could”, he drags it out emphasizing his vocal strain. he seems to be in pain as he sings. the lyrics depict general unease and endless dissatisfaction. the narrator is clearly discontent with the world around themselves. the lyrics are often full of hate, and the hate is paired with love. the music matches these lyrics to provide some magical instrumental moments. anyway,
“6/1” sounds haunting; as if it’s right outta Halloween. with some michael jackson/smooth criminal inspired guitar work. the drums have this triplet cymbal throughout the track (especially the beginning) that’s really quick; i enjoy that part of the percussion. the whole song is full of great little percussion elements.
the ladder half of the track turns into a grunge fest for the band to showcase their instrumental skills. around the 1:40 mark, there is a unique flow and tone that Charlie uses. the lyrics are eerily descriptive of some unfortunate ideas and thoughts. the song gains in presence and sonic level as the drums increase the overall volume. the drums stick the vocals to the bass. all in all, i believe that this is my favorite track on ‘drunk tank pink’. it transitions perfectly into
the loud, electro grunge tune that follows. “harsh degrees” is a post-hardcore number with some art-rock vibes and synths in the background. the lyrics come slow, but they add up. there are multiple extended verses during the brief song. one line, “this ain’t love, it’s just a form of attack”, truly sums up the energy of the song. there’s a screeching guitar solo and steen’s tone which is meaner. also, there’s a distorted synth solo around the 2:15 mark that i quite enjoyed.
“station wagon” is a beautiful closer. it is an extremely calm song. velvet underground/lou reed type calm. it has an 80s heartwarming movie feel when the soft piano is paired with the thrashing drums and disordered guitars. the guitars, together, add a southern energy mixed with a chilling, icy feel. southern ice, if you will. the piano adds an emotional touch. the spoken word monologue is great. it is a 46 lined verse! a FOURTY SIX lined verse, told in story format, to end the album. with lyrics like,
“and with you as my witness
i’m gonna try and achieve
“And all is but a distant memory
when i look up at it
voices shatter in disbelief”
it turns into a bombastic ending that highlight shame’s craftsmanship. the song ascends in terms of channeling energy, and this creates some real emotion. a heart churning ending to a rollercoaster of an album.
there are many elements of this album that remind me of interpol. the combination of a rough, distinct vocalist and an amazing drummer. the consistency of the record. the act of creating a fantastic eleven track record is something that is easily reminiscent of bright lights era interpol.
the transitions during side two are highlights as well. they meld the songs together very well.
the diversity of sound is important. each song functions for a different sound, so, impressively, each track is different.
i enjoy how the album gradually gains a presence of piano. its use during “station wagon” was an important turning point in the song. some of the most compelling, best moments of the album are when the piano is present, no matter how brief or hidden under effects.
shame clearly have their drummer in Charlie Forbes, who is fantastic. the band’s lineup also features a distinct vocalist in Charlie Steen, whose stage presence is outstanding (even in studio recordings). these two shine throughout each song, and create most of the best moments of the album.
favs: all of them, especially “BiL”, “snow day”, “6/1”, and “station wagon”.