Album Review: Shame - Songs of Praise (Dead Oceans)
Shouty South Londoner's Shame are smouldering on raucous debut LP which lives up to all expectations
Having only burst through South London’s music scene last year, Shame have quickly gained people’s attention with their witty, outspoken social commentary on British politics. Who could forget the tongue-in-check lyrics of their single ‘Visa Vulture’: “Oh Theresa, honey / Know I mind the gap with my chargrilled meat inside your butter-bread baps”. However, this was only a taster as their debut album, Songs of Praise delivers much more than punchy political one liners. Instead it resonates with honest tales on society, sex, money and loneliness.
Moving away from politics, ‘The Lick’ sarcastically criticises the music industry with front man c mocking the NME to the accessibility of free streaming, “You can pick it up, plug it in and have free roaming material before you know it”. Each syllable that rolls off Steen’s tongue is sharper than before as he hisses about trips to the gynecologist and modern technology. Over a backdrop of suspenseful riffs and thrashing drums, Steen comments on the sheltered lifestyle of the younger generation and how everything is now available at the touch of a button: “That’s what we want, that’s what we need. Something that we can touch, something that we can feel”, he chants.
Confronting the dangerous relationship between money and sex, ‘Gold Hole’ tells the sad tale of a young woman having unwanted sex with a man in return for diamonds, pearls and money. “She feels so dirty / She knows it’s wrong / But she feels so good in Louis Vuitton”, Steen screams over aggressive drums. Whilst ‘Concrete’ talks about anxiety and loneliness (“Do you feel alone? / Well sometimes I do”) with Steen repeatedly screaming “No. More. Questions” as the drums reach their climax.
“In all my dreams / She still remains”, ‘Songs of Praise’ ends on a slightly more romantic tone with ‘Angie’, a seven-minute haunting tale of the death of a girlfriend.
“If you’re in a band and you’re trying to please everyone then you are doing something wrong”, says Shame whose debut proves that they do not care about conforming to mainstream music standards. They are a British, working-class band who deliver frank and confrontational music alongside provocative live performances.
Having played a record-breaking number of 47 festivals last year, you will be sure to catch Shame during this summer’s festival circuit.