South London five piece, Shame have released their post-apocalyptic debut Songs of Praise. Only two weeks into the new year and we’ve already been provided a soundtrack to the end of the world as we know it. Praised by Q Magazine as ‘one of Brexit-era rock’s most insurrectionary new voices’, they’ve already turned heads with a loveless serenade to Theresa May in the form of ‘Visa Vulture’.
Songs of Praise opens with the abrasive ‘Dust on Trial’. The song is raw and it sets the tone for the rest of the album well, the bridge of it takes a life of its own, a jarring mixture of bad horror film and genuine anger. There’s far more of a rhythm to ‘Concrete’ that makes it a far more comfortable listen with a confident nod to Joy Division. It’s bleak and hopeful it equal measure, the two pushing each other to and fro for dominance.
There’s a simplicity to the track that’s not understated, it’s needed like a breath of fresh air when it sits between such heavy numbers.
It’s clear that ‘One Rizla’ is where Shame gathered fans. The song centres about taking insecurity and making it a strength, embracing it in the typical story of adolescent pain and anguish for a life you have little agency within. There’s a simplicity to the track that’s not understated, it’s needed like a breath of fresh air when it sits between such heavy numbers. ‘One Rizla’ is a quiet bit of introspection on an album that focuses on the bigger picture both in terms of society and looking to the future and past.
‘Tasteless’ is a particular favourite, taking a stab at apathy and those who won’t stand up to fight. With a snarling bass line and seething lyrics, the lowly growl of ‘I like you better when you’re not around’ (repeated a mere 16 times because they’re not passive aggressive at all), ‘Tasteless’ is a call to arms if ever it’s been heard. ‘Friction’ shows off a lesser seen swagger for Shame. There’s more of an 80s vibe than you’d expect with front man Charlie Steen channelling his inner Ian Curtis once again. It tackles the idea of London being forward thinking and how the further out you travel the more backwards things get the friction that it creates, like how London all voted remain whilst country areas voted leave.
Songs of Praise closes on ‘Angie’. It’s a change of tone and a tender moment amongst the chaos that comes before it. The song is morose but it feels equally necessary, with a soaring chorus to push ‘Angie’ into a celebration more than commiseration.
Shame’s agenda is no smoke and mirrors affair, with an album like Songs of Praise as a debut it’s clear they’re out to take to prisoners. Where VANT exited stage left at the end of 2017, Shame were waiting in the rafters to pick up the gauntlet. Catch Shame on their UK Tour in April and be sure to give Songs of Praise a spin right here.