Album Review: Shame – ‘Drunk Tank Pink’

The album conjured in the “womb”, Shame’s youngest child ‘Drunk Tank Pink’ is born. 


It’s been three long and gruelling years since the release of Shame’s debut album ‘Songs of Praise’, two years of exhausting touring for the band, and one of reoccurring isolation when their sophomore was planned to be delivered to us. But the run-up to ‘Drunk Tank Pink’ has been nothing less than electric, for many it has been the light at the end of the tunnel for the time being. The album has captured the essence of total isolation and self-reflection, expresses tongue cheek sounds, and is a well-needed release of anger for some. The record is produced by James Ford who has worked with the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Foals, and Gorillaz.

The first taste fans were so kindly spoon-fed by the band is and was ‘Alphabet’ being the first single it’s been a while since most have given it a spin – yet the flavour it has is still as sweet as it was when it released, Charlie Forbes’ drums highlight the track with quick powerful bursts and the chorus is the punk war cry that 2021 needs. ‘Nigel Hitter’ takes a turn with the light more playful lyricism that is weaved through much of ‘Drunk Tank Pink’.

‘Born in Luton’ was anticipated just as much as the album itself, with people dying to hear the studio version after a live version had been released last year on Youtube exclusively – just the thought of having the song has been mouth-watering, from its electro-punk sounding verses with frontman Charlie Steens’ blistering vocals, the maelstrom of a chorus. “I’ve been waiting outside for all of my life, and now I’ve got the door there’s no one inside”/ “I’ve been kicking the curb, I’ve been chipping the stone”; Sounds like an endless cycle of disappointment and waiting for something that’s never going to come round, even if there is a glimmer of hope.

‘March Day’ directly references Steens’ “womb” formerly a laundry room in an old care home, redecorated and pink! “In my room, in my womb is the only place I find peace” the track shows represents the difficulty of isolation but also sparks that can happen in it. Whereas ‘Human, for a Minute’ is like a candle burning out, the very essence of yourself draining from your body – cathartic and fitting.

A good writer writes, a great writer steals!” how very true from ‘Great Dog’ expressive urgency, vocals, drums, guitar, and drums all in its entirety, Shame, your south London punk attack still lingers, thank goodness. The same goes completely for ‘6/1’ rage and self-contempt, which is showered in self-awareness. With a looming bass and alarming guitar sounds a cacophony of beautiful anger.

Time for a deep breath as the end is near; ‘Station Wagon’ begins with light lyrics and calm vocals, slow strings being picked, and sweet backing vocals. But tone twists and darkens just like most things, with more abstract sounds with certain keys being played harshly, and Steens’ vocals become more coarse and rough – and breathe again. A direct monologue, spoken with clarity and passion –desires that we all feel and so desperately cling to. “I’m gonna try achieve the unachievable because one day that vapour will be in my pocket”.

‘Drunk Tank Pink’ was well needed for fans, the industry, and the band most of all. It’s an album to rage to, to think, to heal, and to escape within. Shame have broken that silly little second album curse and have blown their work on ‘Songs of Praise’ out of the water. Struggle after struggle they made it happen in style, admirable.


Jack McGill
Deputy Editor


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