Shame – Drunk Tank Pink Album Review

Dead Oceans – 2021

The best things in life come to those who wait. And it seems to have been quite the age since Shame first broke out into underground stardom with debut album Songs Of Praise way back in 2018. The release and subsequent success of that album almost paved a way for the new age of post punk and independent artists to be able to break into the top spots on the UK album charts. Since the release the likes of Black Midi, Sports Team and IDLES have all found themselves racing up the charts in fashion that hasn’t been seen in many years for these ‘guitar bands’. The south London 5-piece now return with their long awaited, long delayed sophomore album Drunk Tank Pink. Taking its name from both the colour that is supposed to invoke a more relaxed state of mind as well as the bedroom that lead singer Charlie Steen moved into after two years of relentless touring with the band. Where Songs Of Praise sought to understand the teenage angst that is felt as you start to come away from your childhood, Drunk Tank Pink is about finding your identity as an adult, where your place is in this brutalist world. “I’m half the man I should be” chants Steen on “Human, For A Minute”.

Written and recorded before any of the horrors of the past year took place, the themes of this album preceded many of the feelings of isolation and longing to get somewhere that were felt by many people, but perhaps that’s the beauty of this songwriting. “In my room, in my womb, Is the only place I find peace, All alone, in my home, Yeah, I still can’t get to sleep” sings Steen on “March Day”. The innocence of not knowing what was to come, and yet capturing the spirit of us all without trying to jump on the bandwagon of lockdown songs allows the emotion felt in this track to become more pure, and therefore more relatable to us all. But you can hear the descent into a wealth of anxiety as this album goes on, through to the second half Steen now sings “I devote all this timе, To a world that’s not mine, Then I fade far away, Then I fade far away, As I talk to myself, You emerge ill of health” on “Harsh Degrees”, slowly feeling as though he’s losing his place in the world the more time he spends alone with himself.

It would have easy to repeat the same formula of Songs Of Praise which sonically was centred largely around the raucous riffs that burst along every second of the way. However this album takes its time in allowing each sound and idea to be played out in full. There’s elements of funk sewn into the riffs and beats of the off-kilter “Nigel Hitter” that demand you to get up and groove along. And then there’s the slow chugging hopefulness of closer “Station Wagon” that asks you to take a step back and look at the beauty of the world, as the ballad like piano and controlled drum beats chug along until the track reaches its frenzy fuelled closure. “But nobody said this was gonna be easy, And with you as my witness, I’m gonna try and achieve, The unachievable, Because one day, That vapour will be in my pocket” declares Steen as he looks to the heavens above.

One reoccurrence that the band leans heavily into is the big anthemic chorus, from the climatic closing of “Born In Luton” to the euphoric half time explosion of intensity on “Water In The Well”. They serve as emotive outbursts that allow the stories that Steen is singing about to be presented with an air of pure cathartic bliss. This grandeur not only amplifies Shame’s blistering sound, but allows it to become even more bittersweet. The maturity that is sung about within the lyrics is also matched within the songwriting. The movement from the off-beat guitar riffs to the half-speed chaotic chorus calls on “Snow Day” perfectly distills the intensity and erratic nature of becoming in love with the idea of a time, as it takes over your every thought. “And then I fall to you, In my mind”. The crashing drums and colliding guitars fly around the soundscape whilst simultaneously keeping their mark of driving the the song to its colourfully flourished finish line. But they don’t have to have the flailing guitars at every moment to sound truly haunting. The epitome of the bands songwriting as well as this albums production value comes in the form of “Human, For A Minute”. Through its closely patched chugging bass line, deadpan vocal delivery and truly sinister guitar lines this song embodies the lack of self worth that many young adults begin to feel in their early twenties. There’s so much darkness packed into this song that from the moment you first hear it you get sucked into its deep endless ravine of self depreciation.

But this isn’t to say the power and chaos is gone from their sound. The three track run of “Great Dog”, “6/1” and “Harsh Degrees” is packed with that full faced intensity that was found all over their debut album, each song leading into the next without giving you a second to breath. It’s fast and furious but unlike the film franchise, the songs don’t overstay their welcome. Sometimes however the riff and beat on certain songs can become a bit too predictable and leave you yearning for those changes in pace. Although only a few songs into the tracklist the flurrying early 2000’s indie paced guitar lines of “March Day” and “Water In The Well” feel as though they’ve been heard many times before and don’t quite match up to the grandeur of many other moments in the album. Hidden behind explosions of sound, they are exciting in their drive but don’t really offer anything new in terms of sonic exploration.

Whether you’ve been bullying the band on twitter or patiently awaiting the second coming of these boys from the south, one things for sure, they have delivered the goods. And not just a second helping of what we’ve all had a good taste for, but an album that has been grown and allowed to mature along with us until it was ready to be consumed. The confidence and bravado of Shame has never died down in this time and that can be felt all over this album as the band look to challenge themselves at almost every turn.

Shame share new single “Nigel Hitter” and accompanying music video

Photo for DIY

Shame have shared new single “Nigel Hitter” from upcoming sophomore album Drunk Tank Pink, set to be released on January 15th via Dead Oceans. The single was premiered on Annie Mac’s “Hottest Record In The World”. This is the fourth single from the new album following on from “Snow Day”, “Water in the Well” and “Alphabet”.

The band have also shared an accompanying music video. Watch below.

Shame announce new album ‘Drunk Tank Pink’ and share new single

Photo for DIY

Shame have announced their sophomore album Drunk Tank Pink, the follow up to 2018’s Songs Of Praise, which won the award for Rough Trade’s album of the year. The new album includes previously released single “Alphabet”.

Rough Trade said about the new album “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 Londoner’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 March Day’s escalating aural panic attack 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.”

They have also shared “Water In The Well” from the new album and an accompanying music video. Watch it below.


  1. Alphabet
  2. Nigel Hitter
  3. Born In Luton
  4. March Day
  5. Water In The Well
  6. Snow Day
  7. Human
  8. Great Dog
  9. 6/1
  10. Harsh Degrees
  11. Station Wagon

Shame share new live track “BiL”

North London post-punk outfit Shame have shared a new live track “BiL” recorded live at Electric Brixton in London. The new song is the first taste of a live session film to come from the band. Shame are set to play a sold-out show at Electric Brixton in April next year.

Earlier in the year Shame shared new single “Alphabet“, their first new music since the release of Songs Of Praise in 2018.

Watch the new video below.

Shame release new single Alphabet

Photo by Sam Gregg

London post-punk rockers have released a new single ‘Alphabet’. This is the first new music from the 5 piece in two years after their standout debut album Songs Of Praise that saw them win the Rough Trade album of the year award. They have also released a haunting accompanying music video directed by Tegen Williams.

The band said about the new single on twitter “Many years we have toiled. Brutal winters and fearsome summers have passed. But on this day, this great day, we finally bestow onto you our new single.”

The band have also announced their first headline show since 2018, at London’s Electrix Brixton on April 22nd 2021. Tickets go on sale on Thursday 18th of September at 10 am.

Watch the new video below.