Shame - Songs of Praise
Songs of Praise
Post Hardcore music is always a bit of a gamble. It take so much to be really good at it, and really so little to fuck it all up. The energy has to be right, the vibe, everything has to fire on all cylinders and on their debut record Shame have done just that. There is this raw, visceral energy to this record from the first moment, evoking this live aggression that makes every punk show so awesome. On the album cover it looks like this is some extra fucked up Christian Band but if you are in the market for Contemporary Christian jams this is not the place for you. Charlie Steen's vocals here are a real star harnessing that deep British aggression that we don't often see. For a band who are known for taking off their clothes and jumping into the crowd a picture holding little pigs in a field feels perfectly ironic. They truly are in on the joke which makes it so much more fun and gives their music this really great dynamic. They also don't fall into the usual traps of this genre: going overly dark, taking everything far to serious or falling to catch the joke of it all. "The Lick" is so aggressive and sneering in it's delivery that you can sense how funny the boys find this stuff, and that gives it a lightness that otherwise would weigh the record down. The songs are so well put together with stellar verses, bopping choruses and bridges that set the track on fire. "Tasteless" is a real standout with it's somewhat shoegazey verse breaking into a chorus meant for fucking screaming aloud back at the band. They capture the live feel so incredibly well and then never let you go.
Even when things take a more rhythmic turn like on the pounding "Gold Hole" Shame still keep you full engaged, going down the rabbit hole (no pun intended) with them. The thing yo really notice is just how well this tows the line between aggression and playfulness. In the hands of a lesser band you could imagine this album being heavy and full of itself, but the punk rock in Shame just won't allow them to do that. This music is also far more melodic than I've let on thus far. The songs really cook and have a post hardcore bend, but the crux still remains making a song that will move people. "Friction" feels like an all out pop song, though with a decided Shame bend, but it could work on top 40 or in the dingiest dark club. There is no break on Songs of Praise just a relentless efoort to put a beat on the floor and get people truly wilding out. Shame have really done something special with this debut record, and ever more so reinvigorated a genre that as of late has become a bit stale. Give these guys a shot, you might just find yourself moshing along.
8.3 out of 10