Songs of Praise is a very
promising first album from the South-London group Shame, who show a massive amount of versatility and capability in this
collection of alternative rock tunes.
Released on 12 January, the sarcastic title encapsulates a lot of the lyrics on the tracks, which are mainly bitter musings on society, relationships and themselves. On the second single One Rizla, frontman Charlie Steen croons about how his “nails aren't manicured” and his “voice ain't the best you've Heard”, only to defiantly add 'but do I give a fuck'. This rebellious attitude is found throughout the record and gives it a refreshingly fiery spirit, with echoes of Joe Strummer resonating in Steen's vocals, particularly as his delivery gets more aggressive in the chorus of Concrete, for example.
Instrumentally Songs of Praise is surprisingly diverse, exploring a range of different styles of alternative rock, from noisy and visceral punk on Tasteless to the more melodic and jangly tones on Friction, and the post-punky spoken word on The Lick. Their main guitars are US made standard Stratocasters but they also have used a Tele or a Gibson Les Paul Junior while recording the album. In either case, their guitar sound provides the album with grit and ferocity, while still maintaining variance. The energetic feeling on Lampoon allows the lead guitar to bounce nimbly over the track before giving way to wailing walls of distorted guitar for an epic climax, whereas on the closing tack Angie, they have a much softer and more anthemic quality to them which gives the record a nice sense of contrast.
The LP is also full of snarling guitar riffs, such as on the grungy, menacing opener Dust on Trial and the rough bite of Donk, which gives the songs an undeniably catchy quality, with the punchy production helping to make them stick. These, along with the wildly captivating vocal performances and tight rhythm section show Shame to be a capable group who have a knack for well-written, in your face punk tunes.
Songs of Praise is a remarkably solid first record for Shame, as they showcase their unique take on the various different sounds of post-punk and alternative rock. Their talent for clever and funny lyrics, excellent performances and sharp songwriting is evident, making the album more enjoyable with each listen. This album displays huge potential for the band and makes this reviewer, for one, very excited to hear future releases.