This is a gentler, more introspective Shame - gone are the raucous frustrations of ‘Songs Of Praise’, leading way for a pensive, delicate new wave of punk. ‘Drunk Tank Pink’ is a surreal landscape of desperation, frustration, and consideration, and a confident second record from the South Londoners.
Although a portion of the record has a gentle tone, ‘Water In The Well’ is perhaps the key exception to the rule, with its heavy, brooding guitars and frontman Charlie Steen’s almost despairing howls - there is a frenetic energy here, juxtaposing the themes of loss, escaping, and hiding. How can we flee from reality, and find ourselves in the surreal rural imagery presenting in this song? Alongside ‘Harsh Degrees’, ‘Great Dog’, and ‘Alphabet’, these four tracks are the only raucousness of the record.
With tinges of Talking Heads and Public Image Limited colouring this surreal soundscape, Shame are bringing themselves more into the forefront of tha UK post-punk sound. The record is a blazing, thoughtful post-punk production, showcasing the genre in a way that is completely individual to Shame themselves.
Second track ‘Nigel Hitter’, alongside ‘Station Wagon’, and ‘March Day’ are where these retro influences come to a head. Steen’s trademark spoken vocal style is satisfyingly congruous with the twitchy guitars and rolling bass notes in these tracks, giving a timeless feel to the songs. ‘Human, For A Minute’ allows us to see an emotional side of the band, with Steen’s deep, soft singing leading the track through muted guitars and layered percussion. It’s this track where the five-piece shine the most, showing us that they, too, are human.
‘Drunk Tank Pink’ is a strange, surreal record, with no overarching theme or motivation - but is there anything wrong with that? Each track feels like its own ecosystem, tackling its own demons and fighting with its own musical journey. It’s certainly an album created with plenty of thought and various concepts tackled within its 40-odd minutes, leaving a sweet aftertaste, and the urge for an immediate re-listen.
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Words: Erin Bashford
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