The current post-punk scene is oozing with refreshing talent. The genre has never sounded so exciting with the likes of Idles and Squid leading the charge with wide critical acclaim and ambitious creativity. While the scene is thriving, every crop of fresh acts that emerge simultaneously has a black sheep. In the realm of modern post-punk, shame is that outcast. The 5-piece has seen every side of the music industry in their mere five years in the spotlight. From an innovative debut to world tours to complete breakdowns, shame has been traversing their rise to stardom like any group of young, ambitious musicians would. These songs they have been writing for years are now written about with high praise, an immense amount of pressure for anyone, especially a band whose music is so quick to denounce convention.
It was 2018 and shame had just released their debut LP, Songs of Praise. The album was touted as a beacon of light for the punk world as the band’s jovial yet focused approach to the genre left them with an album that was more impressive than the band even realized. Shame was able to encapsulate the most obscure elements of punk and filter them through their natural abilities, culminating in the 10 terrific songs featured on the LP. The band quickly launched into the public eye as they packed up their gear to embark on a global tour in support of Songs of Praise. The outcome of sending five 20-somethings around the world ended exactly how you would expect it to, unfortunately short. It was while on the road that shame’s frontman, Charlie Steen, began to suffer from panic attacks. This anxiety would boil over until the remainder of the tour was canceled and the band would return to civilian life for the time being. It was quite on the shame front for two years after the cancellation of their tour. Once touted as the golden child of post-punk, the band lays dormant after a tumultuous stint on the road.
The silence from the band grew louder with each passing minute until one day in September 2020. Two-and-a-half years after their catastrophic tour of the world, the band released “Alphabet”, the first look into their highly-anticipated sophomore LP. Drunk Tank Pink was released in January of 2021 and captured the band at an interesting spot in their creativity. The album is bold and outrageous in its conceptual ambition as the band reinvents itself as the anti-hero of modern punk. The band used extended instrumentals and cartoonish vocals to create an ambitious piece of music that weaves in and out of the conventional. The band gathered their experiences from their first album and combined them with a newfound freedom to create outside of any expectations. Through complex drum patterns and demanding tempos that switch in the blink of an eye, the band successfully captured their complicated headspace and created a daring album that adds to their already historic career.
The third and most recent chapter of shame comes in the form of Food for Worms, the band’s third and most focused album to date. The ten songs on the album show immense growth and maturity for the British punkers. The band was able to tighten up their playing while avoiding sounding too perfect, striking a balance between artistic evolution and consistency. Food for Worms has the band at their strongest, their songwriting was focused on the world around them instead of leaning on introspection like on previous releases which allowed their musicianship and approach to song structure to become the focus. This shift in gears gave birth to moments of external examination mixed with guitar-driven arrangements that meld together for pure punk bliss.
With Food for Worms marking shame’s triumphant return, their future has never seen brighter. With every release, the band grows in a new direction, building off of previous releases to find the middle ground between cohesiveness and experimentation. If you’re new to shame, Glide has curated the band’s essential songs to paint an accurate picture of a band whose artistry surpasses them by years.
Songs of Praise
One of shame’s biggest hits to date, “One Rizla” makes for a perfect introduction to the band. The song has an infectious hook and relatable lyrics that are painted over a steady instrumental with blazing guitars and a melody that makes the song feel like it’s swaying with you. “One Rizla” is one of the more conventional moments in the band’s discography as they adhere to modern song structure while still showcasing their personality through electrifying vocal tones.
Food for Worms
A shining moment on the band’s latest release, “Six-Pack” is an example of how much the band has grown since their debut. “Six-Pack” shines a light on the outside world and presents shame’s views of what is going on around them. The band takes their observations and filters them through their psyche to spit out lyrics that scoff at society. This isn’t a song made out of bitterness, “Six-Pack” is simply shame acting as a news reporter that is hellbent on uncovering the truth of what is going on around them. The band delivers their breaking news over a frantic instrumental that shakes you to your bones through warping guitar rhythms and neck-breaking drums.
Drunk Tank Pink
The band’s sophomore album takes its rightful place as a middle child in shame’s universe. Their rambunctious approach to structure and musicianship make for an album demanding your full attention. “Nigel Hitter” takes a simplistic approach to the band’s unfiltered creativity, using spurts of static guitars to add an edge to the full composition. The band is more stripped down on this track, allowing the vocals to reshape themselves throughout the song. This minimalism stands out on an album bursting with ambition and walls of sound, making “Nigel Hitter” an interesting yet needed addition to shame’s second studio LP.
Food for Worms
Shame plays a game of give and take on this deep cut from their third album. The song starts off with a slow build, swelling up to an onslaught of punk aggression only to be broken down again to a calmer, more direct tempo. The band uses these twists and turns to present some of their most poetic songwriting to this date. “Yankees” brings with it a level of bluntness that develops a level of honesty between the artist and the listener, creating an intimate moment on an album that is meant to point outward. The song stands out due to its powerful use of syncopation and meaningful lyrics that prove shame’s fearlessness.
Songs of Praise
This track is an early example of shame’s ability to shapeshift. The menacing vocals sound gigantic over the desperado-style guitar riffs that push the verses forward. At times, the song takes the shape of a spoken-word performance only to transition seamlessly into the howling hook. Placing a song like “The Lick” on your debut album is a big risk and for shame, it paid off tremendously. “The Lick” feels like a warning shot from shame, a direct message to the listener that they are not a band that wants to dance around with the rules. They instead throw caution to the wind as “The Lick” uses its spacious structure to display the wide-ranging vocal talents of lead vocalist Charlie Steen.
“Born in Luton“
Drunk Tank Pink
In “Born in Luton”, shame uses their love for unconventional song structure to create an odyssey of a track. In the nearly five-minute runtime of the song, each of the five members of shame put their best foot forward to create a collage of the band’s natural talents. Each element of this song has its narrative and character arch as shame creates an expansive soundscape of cinematic instrumentation. The drums never settle on one groove or pattern, the guitar cuts through the song like a knife to cardboard, and the vocals are filtered through a distortion that adds a redefining texture to the whole piece. “Born in Luton” makes the experimental sound like the new normal, allowing each member’s idea of what the song should be to melt together to create a kaleidoscope of hard rock.
Songs of Praise
With Food for Worms now settled into the band’s legacy, it shines a new light on songs like “Friction”. The song is an early example of shame’s ability to reach outside of themselves for inspiration, writing a song that questions the morals of everyone in the room. “Friction” features a surf rock-style guitar riff that lays the foundation for the vocals to appear calm while still forcing you into a place of self-analysis. Shame asks the perfect questions that not only make for vague beauty but also give us a personal look into the band’s morals from an early stage in their career.
Food for Worms
“Orchid” sounds like the closest we will get to a shame exploring the art of balladry. The band creates an instrumental packed with so much color and liveliness while still sounding like it belongs in a cigarette-scented dive bar. The baritone nature of the vocals provides the extra texture this arrangement needed, they play off of each other with ease to make for one of the more conventional moments in shame’s discography. This style of music fits the band well as it allows their poetic lyrics of longing to sit front and center.
Drunk Tank Pink
This particular song sums up the band’s second album better than anything. While the song has a dark aura around it brought on by its up-tempo drums to juxtapose the steady burning of the rest of the arrangement, shame seems to be having fun on this one. The band lets out any hint of aggression or unfulfilled creative endeavors in this intimidating approach that shifts between styles like a go-kart drifts between lanes. It is very easy to add too much to a song, making it sound crowded and overly ambitious. “Snow Day” has shame adding anything and everything into the pot while rising from the mound of sound with a song that wouldn’t feel whole if just one note was removed.
Songs of Praise
For nearly seven minutes, shame takes you on a wild ride through their artistic vision that has become fully realized since their debut. “Angie” is the layered outro to the band’s 2018 debut that doubles as a crystal ball that tells the future of the band’s creative vision. With its many highs and lows and a melody that crashes like waves in the ocean, “Angie” has the band exploring the furthest extent of their creativity as they leave nothing on the cutting room floor for this track. The expansive nature of the song speaks volumes about the band’s confidence at a young age. They allow themselves to simply attempt without fear of failure, building a moment of youthful joy for a band facing the pressure of a debut studio album.