By Alyce Ruby
The second studio album from South London’s post-punk group Shame, was released last month. The name ‘Drunk Tank Pink’ - derived from the colour painted across prison cells, bus seats and hospitals in the 80s was found to calm aggressive behaviour. The same colour of frontman Charlie Steen’s room.
The band toured with their 2018 debut album ‘Songs of Praise’ for 320 shows and the new album details what the band dealt with once the crowds went home and they had to return to theirs, isolating before it became mandatory. Usually us ‘non-musicians’ wouldn’t identify with this feeling, but with the seemingly never-ending lockdowns of the pandemic – it’s more relatable than ever. With lyrics such as, “Will this day ever end? I need a new beginning” on ‘Nigel Hitter’ and, “I can’t get up, I won’t get up” on ‘March Day’ (coincidentally the month the lockdowns began) – it’s the album to perfectly encapsulate what the entire country is going through.
Musically, the album is a rollercoaster of sound and styles. We go from ‘Alphabet’ opening the album with a shouty, Slaves-esque sound to the slow building ‘Station Wagon’ with a vocal reminiscent of The Velvet Underground. There is never a dull moment in the madness, it’s loud without being mindless noise.
‘Born in Luton’ encapsulates the body of work for me, with electric guitar intervals carrying the track to sudden, slow halts with Steen crying out, “I’ve been waiting outside for my whole life, and now I’ve got to the door there’s no one inside.” The song speaks to being locked out of something, being so close and never getting in. In a way, opposite but parallel to the album’s title and meaning.
For me, whilst it perfectly fits with the current times we’re in, this album was made to be heard live. It’s much punchier and more confident than ‘Songs of Praise’, instrumentally it’s stronger and the production value is higher. I can’t wait to go to a gig. ****
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