Shame release an early album of the year contender with 'Food for Worms'
The South London post-punk band gave us one of the best albums of the year in 2021 and they've done it again with Food For Worms.
You've got to feel a bit sorry for post-punk bands.
For one, it’s a bit of a terrible name for the genre. Sorry. Also, you don’t really find them at home anyway. They’re a bit too gnarly for the mainstream, a tad too conventional for the alternative. Always the bridesmaids on the festival circuit, never the headline brides.
Which is a bit of a shame when you’ve got acts like...Shame.
They’re good pals with questionably the best group of the post-punk scene Fontaines DC. But they’re not mere hangers-on. And with Food For Worms their third album they’re staking their own claim as one of the best guitar acts around.
Singer Charlie Steen and his bandmates have not hidden the fact it’s about mates, a romantic relationship not covered enough in songs.
Things explode with ‘Fingers of Steel’ the single released to acclaim last year. They’ve still got the hurricane howl but there’s a melodic thread to their frayed edges. The wee rabbit punch of the guitar as you think it’s over shows their rebel intentions.
Another single in the form of the taunt ‘Six-Pack’ snaps at its heels. The band had stated it’s about a room in which all your dreams come true and do it with a funk that reminds you of early Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Don’t be put off though, instead revel in the change of direction.
There are tracks that often cement the album's themes of friendships. Not just with the lyrical content but the manner in which they’re delivered. Take ‘Yankees’ for instance, with its shambolic chant of a chorus that sounds like a group of pals in the crowd at one of their gigs as opposed to the band who are actually performing. The fact that it bleeds into ‘Alibis’ which simmers away until the band bond together to pummel us with brute force heightens the feeling of being united.
The great thing about Shame is whatever post-punk category we think we’ve forced them into they come out kicking and spitting. ‘Adderall’ stakes its claim for being Food For Worms standout moment. It lulls us into a false sense of serenity with a soothing serenade about being there for someone who needs you. It then builds menacingly into a twisted finale, leaving you battered and bruised in the process.
Don’t worry though. They’re not resting on their laurels for too long. ‘The Fall of Paul’ sees them pick up the frantic pace of earlier while ‘Burning By Design’ has them dabbling in a bit of rap. Super producer Flood oversaw proceedings on this album and his determined methods have clearly paid off. He apparently put the band through the wringer but the finished product is more polished than you’d expect.
The album ends with a patchwork quilt of all that’s gone before it. ‘All The People’ demonstrates their rambling camaraderie, an affectionate soul resting on a sweaty wall—searing and souring in equal measures.
“Oh, when you’re smiling and you’re looking at me. A life without that in is a life I can’t lead,” hollers the band. And as the song fades with a crash of a tambourine you hear “ And it’s finished.” You’re gutted that it has.
Like its predecessor, it’s been released early on in the year. Not a bad thing as by the times they’re playing to flags in fields and bucket hats on shoulders on the festival circuit later on in the summer we’ll know all of its contents off by heart.
Shame gave us one of the best albums of 2021 when they dropped Drunk Tank Pink. And with the release of Food For Worms they’ve only gone and done it again.
It’s like old friends turning up at your door when you least expect it but need them most. The pals that make you hug and party and fall in love with life all over again.
“You’re complaining a lot,” is the very first line on the album sung by frontman Steen. He’s wrong. With material as worthy as this we’ve got nothing to moan about.