SHAME: Drunk Tank Pink: CD/LP

When Shame released their first single on their Bandcamp page for Drunk Tank Pink I was disappointed. The song, “Alphabet” didn’t do much to impress me. It’s a straight-forward post-punk tune with some youthful energy, but nothing catchy or memorable. I resigned myself to a band whose debut, Songs of Praise, I really enjoyed, but who were obviously headed for a sophomore slump. But once the full album came out, I gave it a listen and found much stronger tracks. In fact, “Alphabet” may be the least impressive of the eleven songs on Drunk Tank Pink. While the music generally falls in the post-punk genre, Shame has enlarged their sound with extra instrumentation (piano, keys, percussion). There’s a funk sound with great grooves that channels James Brown on “March Day.” The introduction to “Snow Day” sounds like something from Kid A or Amnesiac-era Radiohead. “Great Dog” is a foot-stamping, wild affair that sounds as if Ian Curtis gave in to his anger and Joy Division let loose. “Water in the Well” channels Talking Heads, especially in vocalist Charlie Steen’s delivery. After repeated listens I can confidently say this album is hardly a sophomore slump; it’s an improvement for Shame. I’m quite happy to admit I was wrong. Like Songs of Praise, I’m writing this in January but can tell you Drunk Tank Pink will be in my top five albums for 2021. –Kurt Morris (Dead Oceans)