On ‘Drunk Tank Pink,’ Shame Spruce Up Its Post-Punk With Clashing Guitars & Punchy Rhythms

It is a strong time for British post-punk acts as groups like Fontaines D.C. and IDLES ride high. Adding to that tally Shame propagated the success of their debut with their strong second album, Drunk Tank Pink. Their mix of clashing guitars and dance laden rhythms, shooting around spoken/disenchanting vocals congeal into sticky sweet and salty combos.

 The South London based quartet (Eddie Green, Charlie Forbes, Josh Finerty, Sean Coyle-Smith, and Charlie Steen) get the gloomy party started with the stuttering post-punk of “Alphabet”. Shame, however (unlike some of their peers) knows enough to sprinkle in pop/pub rock appeal to keep mainstream listeners engaged.  

The angular dance music of “Nigel Hitter” has smatterings of early Talking Heads while the upbeat jangling pub rock splashed “Great Dog” and “March Day” brings catchy musicality to lyrics dealing with isolations, medications, and the same old mistakes. 

Two tracks expand on the style as both “Born in Luton” and “Snow Day” stretch out, rising and falling in an exploratory fashion. “Born in Luton” is particularly successful pairing chugging and dissonant guitars around a propulsive drum and bass before a mid-section slow downed sparseness leads to a sprawling ending that remains unresolved. Closer “Station Wagon” uses theatrical tactics to its advantage, starting as a spoken word piano piece before rising to a full-on cluster fuck finale. 

Other interesting outings are the heavy driving force of “Harsh Degrees” and the perfect theme song to a future (not so horrific) Black Mirror episode titled “Human, for a Minute”. “6/1” sums up the band’s style as emergency siren-like riffs and bouncing bass musically display the dichotomy that is also found in the lyrics, which state that there is a lot of self-love and self-hate to go around. 

Shame’s style clearly display influences from classic post-punk bands like The Fall and Wire on Drunk Tank Pink, while carving their own path in this unknown spastic present while leaning towards an uncertain bleak future.

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