Alternative Rock | Post-Punk | Noise Rock
My first exposure to south London-based alternative rock band shame, was with their debut album Songs of Praise. That album also happened to be the second album I had ever reviewed fully, upon its release in January of 2018. Three years later, we have the sophomore shame project, titled Drunk Tank Pink.
Starting this review off with a step back into early 2018, and Songs of Praise was an album whose sense of atmosphere had me appreciating that project highly, as the kind that sharpened my hopes for the coming spring, mainly thanks to tracks like “Concrete”, “One Rizla”, and “Tasteless”. On top of these, that abum gave off a very Brit-rock aura, and I believe it reflected who the band were fairly well.
Now fast-forwarding to Drunk Tank Pink, shame’s second album continues to push that London-like aesthetic even further. But this time around, they do so on a project which generally carries a far moodier and dark tone.
This brooding feel that this album has ties in well with this album’s intended concept, which reflects the band members’ isolation from one another, and their desperate attempts to cope away from the crowds, and the present company of their bandmates. This is also reflected in the albums title, which presents the idea of how that specific shade of pink had been used to paint the walls of prison cells, psychiatric wards, and obviously drunk tanks, because of its apparently calming effects.
The band’s frontman, Charlie Steen, used this pigment to paint his roomy cupboard, in the room in which he spent his days of isolation. Renaming his isolation space to “the Womb”, Steen sat in silence, and channeled the inner noise, which would ultimately be splashed onto the canvas that was this record.
As a result of all of the inner frustrations that not only Steen, but also the rest of the band, had been feeling as a result of being in isolation, Drunk Tank Pink feels consistently more explosive and foreboding in its tone. In other words, while Songs of Praise offered us a bit of variety, which I think presented the bands versatility well, the noisier and more angry side to their sound is not only pursued on their second album, but it has also become a part of shame’s members.
That being said, this album still feels rife with upbeat tunes, particularly in the first leg of the record. Albeit, they trade off the Songs of Praise-esque atmosphere, for a more gritty and urban feel. Because let’s face it, most of what nearly anyone has been familiar with in the last year is the same old suburban town or city they live in.
And while we’re on the subject of tracks, I feel that having not properly listened to shame, since 2018, I was mostly unattentive towards the teaser tracks the band had released in the lead up to Drunk Tank Pink. The only exception to this was “Nigel Hitter”, for it was the first and only teaser track released in the blank slate that was 2021. But that track alone didn’t quite wow me as much as I hoped, and I instead saw it as a pretty “typical” alt rock anthem.
That being said, the rest of Drunk Tank Pink was a completely fresh experience for me. And I must say, I am incredibly glad that my first proper listen of Shame, in a matter of years, was through a full album, start to finish. I was able to really get that sense of the album’s thematic purpose, and felt that it ticks all of the alternative rock boxes, even more so than Songs of Praise.
In conclusion, my favourite thing about this album is just how natural and primal its conception was, and I believe that Drunk Tank Pink flawlessly reflects the inner frustrations of the band, as well as pretty much everybody else in the UK.
Favourite Tracks: Snow Day | 6/1 | Harsh Degrees
Least Favourite Track: Nigel Hitter
Enjoyment: 8/10 | Memorability: 9/10 | Atmosphere: 8/10
Uniqueness: 7/10 | Satisfaction: 8/10 | Narrative: 8/10