SHAME – ” Drunk Tank Pink “

Posted: January 21, 2021 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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The phrase “drunk tank pink” that Shame take the name of their new album from refers to the shade of paint used to pacify inhabitants of European jails who were picked up for disorderly conduct while inebriated. It’s also the colour of the closet-sized apartment frontman Charlie Steen shared with guitarist Sean Coyle-Smith though, in the context of their new album, I imagine it’s a more metaphorical usage, one referring to the reeling in of the group’s chaotic tendencies.

The result of (per Steen) “a bath and a good night’s sleep,” Drunk Tank Pink continues the rousing tradition of the Shame project by relying on heavy experimentalism rather than the relentless punk that fuelled 2018’s preceding “Songs of Praise”. While more grounded than the chic, Black Midi-fied post-punk of fellow English acts like Black Country New Road and Squid, DTP sounds like the work of a band who’s fed up with the constraints of genre.

With the LP dropping today, we reached out to the band for a behind-the-scenes look at each track on the project, detailing themes ranging from “the beauty of all canines” to  “lust and puppets.”

1. “Alphabet”

A direct question to the audience and the performer as to whether any of this will ever be enough to reach satisfaction. The genius of Drunk Tank Pink is how these lyrical themes dovetail with the music. Opener Alphabet dissects the premise of performance over a siren call of nervous, jerking guitars, its chorus thrown out like a beer bottle across a mosh pit. Songs spin off and lurch into unexpected directions throughout here,

2. “Nigel Hitter”

This song focuses on daily routine, the motions we go through, and how extraordinary all this seemed to me after coming home from touring.

3. “Born in Luton”

“Born in Luton” is about being locked outside a flat. It exaggerates the mundane and makes it into something unique and overtly dramatic.

4. “March Day”

This is about my consistent unwillingness to wake up on time—my obsession and devotion to my bed and my bedroom.  March Day’s escalating aural panic attack 

5. “Water in the Well”

Over the last few years we’ve been consistently inspired by the people we’ve met and the places we’ve been. All these locations and characters have an effect on us and seep their way into this song, including “Acid Dad,” the name of the person who runs Dewar Farm in which we wrote a lot of DTP. 

6. “Snow Day”

A lot of this album focuses on the subconscious and dreams, this song being the pivotal moment of these themes. A song about love that is lost and the comfort and displeasure that comes after you close your eyes, fall into sleep, and are forced to confront yourself. the shapeshifting darkness of Snow Day

7. “Human, for a Minute”

The first song we wrote after Songs of Praise, the main focus being on a relationship slipping away and the discovery of my own identity through this collapse. There’s a Berlin era Bowie beauty to the lovelorn Human For A Minute .

From the womb to the clouds (sort of), Shame are currently very much in the pink.

8. “Great Dog”

One of the first ones we got down in Dewar Farm for DTP, a nonsense song about the perks of thievery and the beauty of all canines. 

9. “6/1”

An intense evaluation of myself, exploiting my flaws, fears, and narcissism. 

10. “Harsh Degrees”

A song of lust and puppets. 

11. “Station Wagon”

Closer Station Wagon weaves from a downbeat mooch into a souring, soul- lifting climax in which Steen elevates himself beyond the clouds and into the heavens. Or at least that’s what it sounds like. A final conversation with myself and an ode to the great Sir Elton John at the end.

There are moments on “Drunk Tank Pink” where you almost have to reach for the sleeve to check this is the same band who made 2018’s Songs Of Praise. Such is the jump Shame have made from the riotous post-punk of their debut to the sprawling adventurism and twitching anxieties laid out here. The South Londoner’s blood and guts spirit, that wink and grin of devious charm, is still present, it’s just that it’s grown into something bigger, something deeper, more ambitious and unflinchingly honest.

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