Sunday, January 14, 2018
Album Review :: Shame - Songs Of Praise
Songs Of Praise
January 12 2018 (Dead Oceans)
Words: Linn Branson
It's a trifle early in the year to already defining an album as being one of the best you are likely to hear over the next 12 months, but south Londoners Shame show on this debut, 'Songs Of Praise', that although they may hail from the same manor as Fat White Family (and share rehearsal space), they have in fact, superseded their
contemporaries, and produced a really excellent first full-length record.
All of the ten tracks (which were recorded in just ten days at Rockfield Studios) are infused with frontman Charlie Steen's indelible accomplishment of being a Mark Smith (The Fall) for the 21st century, ensuing an equal amount of wrath and wry lyricism (‘The Lick’ opens on a gynaecologist visit: “the stale smell of silicon clung to the wall”), to an accompaniment of abrasive guitars, enveloped in a gritty veneer.
From the artful opener ‘Dust On Trial’, through 'Gold Hole', a tongue-in-cheek tale of illicit seduction (“Sweat stains the wrinkles / Tongue touches the hole / His wife’s at work and his kids are at school”); 'Concrete' in which Shame propel all their thrashing intensity into its three and a half minute bombast on a doomed relationship; to the propulsive 'Tasteless', as feisty and rip-roaring a punk anthem as you are likely to hear and encapsulates the energy that their live shows have become known for with a torrent of raw-edged guitar riffs and scorching basslines, not to mention the razor-blade yowls from Steen.
Elsewhere, ‘One Rizla’ shapes up in festival stage glory, Steen managing to sound achingly sincere when he emotes "I'm not much to look at / And I ain't much to hear", behind which the melody rings out gloriously, before he growls: “you’re clinging to conflict / just let go!”; while on the baggy, Happy Mondays-like ‘Friction, there's some soul-searching at plsy as he questions: “Do you ever need the needy? / Do they ever tug on your heart?” Closing on the seven-minute "dark, twisted love story" ‘Angie’, it concludes a work which without doubt deserves all its praise.