While not the most forward-thinking post-punk record of recent years, “Drunk Tank Pink” is a step in the right direction and a solid sophomore follow-up from the young English outfit.
By Gavin Majeski
When the rising South London alternative rock group Shame dropped their debut LP “Songs of Praise” back in 2018, it was received with open arms to widespread critical praise. Now after three years, not only has the band’s sound matured, but the previously 20 and 21 year-old band members have as well.
While “Songs of Praise” contained tons of groovy post-punk goodness, the overall sound of the band was nothing new, and for the most part followed a formulaic approach to modern post-punk. “Drunk Tank Pink” contains just as much raw energy and scuzzed guitars, but a far more diverse palate of sounds.
While the first half of the record feels a little too akin to their previous, with tracks such as “Alphabet,” “Nigel Hitter,” “March Day” and “Water in the Well” all having solid bass lines and catchy guitar licks, “Drunk Tank Pink” shines when listeners are hit with the halfway point in the track listing.
“Snow Day,” the last single released in preparation for their forthcoming record, was inarguably one of the best singles to come out of 2020. Compared to lead singer Charlie Steen’s shouty vocal delivery on the first leg of tracks, “Snow Day” jumps back-and-forth from cold and calculated to in-your-face aggression.
The instrumental progression on “Snow Day” is a winding, multifaceted journey of innovation that feels like it would fit perfectly in the catalogue of rising post-rock group Black Country, New Road, hailed by The Quietus as “the best band in the world” after releasing only two singles.
Following “Snow Day” is “Human, for a Minute,” a smoldering slow burner that feels like a nice exhale of air after the audacious previous track.
We then reach the final stretch with “Great Dog,” “6/1” and “Harsh Degrees,” some of the most consistently punchy and upbeat tracks in the band’s entire discography. Each track begs to be listened to back-to-back while the audience member wishes they could flail their arms back and forth in a mosh pit.
“6/1,” a track that according to the group’s Twitter, barely made it onto the album, features an instrumental punch in the face as the lyrics, “I pray to no god / I am God / I am every thought your mind has ever had / I prevent nothing / And nothing prevented me” stick in the listener’s ear.
At the end of the cut, we get one of the smoothest transitions of all time, as electronic snares brilliantly transition into “Harsh Degrees,” gradually returning to their acoustic state as the song progresses, eventually ending in a chaotic array of drums, saxophone, sour guitar chords and vocal accompaniment from multiple band members.
“Station Wagon” is the longest track on the record, clocking in at just under seven minutes, and ends the album in gorgeous fashion, slowly building into a nuclear payoff after a distinctive piano accompaniment snugly wraps the sophomore project in a tight bow.
While the first half of “Drunk Tank Pink” feels like another helping of Shame’s debut record, the shining star is the second half, which shows much promise for the young group that seems to only be getting better.
Favorite Tracks: Born in Luton, Snow Day, Great Dog, 6/1, Harsh Degrees, Station Wagon