Album Reviews

Album Review: Shame - Drunk Tank Pink (Dead Oceans)

Sam Smith
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Post-punk is undergoing a revival of sorts in the UK right now with a handful of bands flying the flag for a genre whose golden age appeared to be long gone. One of those bands is called Shame and they have just released their second studio album Drunk Tank Pink.

Arriving on the scene in 2018 with their jangly style of post-punk; think The Damned meets Echo & The Bunnymen, on Drunk Tank Pink, the four-piece have clearly decided to change things up a bit, moving headfirst down a more aggressive heavier route stylistically.

The guitars on here are more punk rock than jangle pop, while frontman Charlie Steen channels his inner Johnny Rotten with a high-octane display of post-punk vocals that really pushes this collection of songs to their absolute edge.

The stylistic changes are apparent from the opening track “Alphabet” which is more punk rock than post-punk, while “Nigel Hitter” has a Television-esque edge to it with its jagged guitars driving the song.

“Born in Luton” sees the band get experimental moving between early Talking Heads and Siouxsie & The Banshees in a post-punk epic which more than anything highlighted Shame’s growth from the first record in terms of songwriting and song structure. The experimentation shown here is also pushed on “Human, for a Minute,” a beautiful slow ballad of sorts that shows off Steen’s tender side as a vocalist.

The absolute highlights though on Drunk Tank Pink were the two singles “Water in the Well” and “Snow Day.” I would go as far as saying these two tracks are two of Shame’s very best and got the balance just right between the jangle post-punk style of the first record and the harder edge of this record. It also helps when Steen puts in two of his very best vocal performances, reminding people again why he is one of the best rock vocalists in the UK right now.

In conclusion, Shame has certainly pushed things forward on this record showing musical development and plenty of surprises that one would not have expected from them three years ago.

The jangle guitar sound has largely been dispensed with as they pushed into the heavier, darker corners of post-punk. For someone like myself who loved the sound of their first record, this is a slight disappointment, but from an overall standpoint and at this stage of their career it makes perfect sense for this band.

With bands like Shame, Black Midi and Black Country, New Road, UK post-punk is the healthiest it has been in over thirty years. Albums like Drunk Tank Pink are helping to push this hugely popular style onwards into the 21st century and in the process, help ensure post-punk’s history continues to grow with a new breed of musicians.

Written By: Sam Smith When he is not writing for Radio 13 Sam works in media and journalism at 95bFM radio and the University of Auckland. He also has is own personal music blog Nowhere Bros.