Shame’s 'Songs of Praise' is rowdy, full of energy

Young South London post-punk joint proves themselves on debut


“Songs Of Praise” is very much the sound of a young band that is finding their footing in the music scene.

Courtesy Shame

It’s quite uncommon for a band to post a debut record that lives up to the hype and shows great promise. For Shame, the young five-piece post-punk group based out of South London, all expectations were met. Their first release, “Songs of Praise,” immediately sets 2018 off on a good start as an album consisting of 38 minutes filled with ranging emotions and innovation. The band brings back reminiscent sounds of 1980s punk (with admitted influences of Iggy and the Stooges and The Fall) while combining them with the newer wave punk bands like FIDLAR and The Drums. It results in a surprisingly excellent record.

At first glance of the artwork, an artsy, boy band-esque picture reminiscent of the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds,” one would think they were about to listen to a dream-pop record. The name of the band and song titles, on the other hand, suggest something on the desolate post-punk side. It becomes apparent when listening to “Songs Of Praise” that pretty much both of these assumptions could be considered correct. Recorded in just 10 days, “Songs of Praise” is a collection of 10 appropriate tracks which cover the struggles and everyday actions of young adults across Britain and the world.

Charlie Steen, the band’s lead, has an impressive vocal spontaneity that is distinguishable immediately in his music, illustrating his inner Nick Cave on tracks like “The Lick” and "Dust On Trial." On other tracks such as "Friction," he illustrates a melodic tone that is more relatable and soft. The lyricism contrasts between blaring and soothing and thus makes for an enticing listen rather than being a boring pattern of consistency. The lyrics themselves are full of blood, spunk and grime, and are far too sated and contradictory to make for easy indie music.

Music is a means of emphasizing emotions, opinions and agendas, and “Songs of Praise,” covers an assortment of topics ranging from society’s morality as a whole to unbalanced relationships. There are multiple tracks that include blurbs of spoken word, which mesh well with the rest of the music. Even with such variety offered on the record, it’s a powerful and consistent listen. The songwriting puts the band miles ahead of other punk groups, especially in a time where post-punk has seemingly become lavish and overdone. Shame tunes it down to a notch that is easily accessible to listeners. There’s a certain level of honesty and grit that distinguishes the band and leaves a great impression on the listener, showing an impressive level of skill on a young band’s debut.

“Songs Of Praise” is very much the sound of a young band that is finding their footing in the music scene. It’s a varied collection, with the whole album acting as a confident switch between nimble brit-pop and snarling post-punk. Ultimately, the album is all about energy, atmosphere and being in a moment. It’s this combination of ideals that makes for a compelling listen. It may not set the indie music world alight, but Shame initiated a fire that will most certainly burn bright throughout 2018. 

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