South London’s Shame are one of the shining jewels of the post-punk revival.
2018 saw their stellar debut, Songs of Praise, take the scene by storm, and the band quickly established themselves as a behemoth of a live unit, earning a place amongst a select group of British and Irish bands turning the country’s respective rock scenes on their heads. Shame followed their explosive debut with something special, Drunk Tank Pink was a supreme exercise in consolidating their raw energy into something much more considered and precise. DTP is a collection of tracks dripping in desperation, melancholia and frustration with the band’s musical development giving Shame a whole new depth of sound. Following up a career-best record with something even better is a rarity, but Shame have done it again.
Food For Worms is an intense exploration into new territory: glimpses of the raw punk sound that captivated us on Songs of Praise remain throughout, but there are brand new shimmers of art and post-rock. Shame truly stretch their wings on this record. ‘Fingers of Steel’ is a dramatic introduction to FFW before Shame begin to hit their stride early with ‘Six Pack’: superb production of Pixies-esque loud-quiet noise really shines in what is one of Shame’s best-ever offerings.
Once more, the sheer growth and progression of style from Shame is unrivalled. Food For Worms so rarely takes the predictable path and leftfield shifts in pace and tone come where you least expect it. In the case of ‘Alibis’ a tiny riff is exploded into an intense fury of feedback and industrial percussion before again switching to a fantastically catchy hook. The hook smashes headlong into the guitar feedback in the final third of the track in what will surely be a live favourite.
‘Adderall’ is Food For Worms’ ‘lighters in the air’ moment: the cut itself is intense, but has a wonderful breakdown and rebuild, akin to the mood of ‘Station Wagon’ from Drunk Tank Pink. ‘Adderall’ also sees frontman Steen at his most vulnerable, screaming the final words of the track with visceral emotion. It is impossible not to buy into what Shame are doing here.
Steen’s vulnerability is a running theme throughout FFW, he wears his heart on his sleeve. The pure, raw, unbridled lyrics are a beam into Steen’s soul, not dissimilar to how Lou Reed would pour his heart out without the bullshit.
‘Orchid’ is the standout, again practicing a loud-quiet method, Shame draws you in with what, at first glance, is a vulnerable ballad: lead by a mazy acoustic guitar and soft drums this part of the track sounds like it could be on Nirvana’s ‘MTV Unplugged’ record. Just as you expect Shame to wind down this gorgeous, sensitive ballad, the listener is sideswiped by howling guitar and a wall of sound so colossal it will knock you off your feet. Incredibly, Shame pull the same trick seconds later, as the track flips back to its sensitive melancholia before, once again, the listener is hit full in the face with 30 seconds of pure industrial punk
‘The Fall of Paul’ is yet another quality cut, a glorious nod to Shame’s punk beginnings, but the new post-rock direction ultimately shines through to fantastic effect.
Food For Worms plays out in considerable style, ‘Burning By Design’, ‘Different Person’ and ‘All the People’ are three more fantastic tracks. Shame are unburdened in their quest to reach new sonic heights, but this record has zero filler or fat. It’s 100% lean Shame-mince.
photo credit: Pooneh Ghana