There are moments on Drunk Tank Pink where you almost have to reach for the sleeve to check this is the same band who made 2018’s Songs Of Praise. Such is the jump Shame have made from the riotous post-punk of their debut to the sprawling adventurism and twitching anxieties laid out here. The South London band’s blood-and-guts spirit, that wink and grin of devious charm, is still present – it’s just that it’s grown into something bigger, something deeper, more ambitious and unflinchingly honest.
The genius of Drunk Tank Pink is how these lyrical themes dovetail with the music. Opener ‘Alphabet’ dissects the premise of performance over a siren call of nervous, jerking guitars, its chorus thrown out like a beer bottle across a mosh pit. Songs spin off and lurch into unexpected directions throughout here, be it the escalating aural panic attack of ‘March Day’ or the shapeshifting darkness of ‘Snow Day’. There’s a Berlin-era Bowie beauty to the lovelorn ‘Human For A Minute’, while closer ‘Station Wagon’ weaves from a downbeat mooch into a souring, soul- lifting climax in which Steen elevates himself beyond the clouds and into the heavens. Or at least that’s what it sounds like.
From the womb to the clouds (sort of), Shame are currently very much in the pink.
Note: The LP is available on indie-shops exclusive pink galaxy vinyl with a signed insert.