Drunk Tank Pink – SHAME ★★★★½

2021Drunk Tank PinkSHAME★★★★½87RockAlternative RockPost Punk

Shame’s 2018 debut Songs of Praise was my second favorite punk album of the 2010s, behind Idles’ Joy as an Act of Resistance. Praise was fun, high-energy alternative rock that was easy to listen to and straightforward in a good way for post-punk music.

When Drunk Tank Pink came out three years later, I was not at all expecting the massive jump in creativity and musicianship that the band made. They matured from a band of kids sounding like they were having a good time, into a band that had painstakingly pieced together every section of every song. 

Musically, they went into an extremely technical rock mindset, focusing heavily on syncopations, time signature shifts, melodic rounds and guitar layering. The songs still feel conventional because, at its simplest form, all the tracks are guitar, bass, drums and vocals, but they don’t particularly follow conventional structures either. There are abrupt tempo changes that kind of knock you on your ass at times, with songs building in intensity and speeding up before you get a double time release and climax of noise. 

Punk music can sometimes be overlooked for its musical creativity or mischaracterized as repetitive, because even some simple sounding phrases can be deceivingly complex. But there’s nothing deceptive here, this is impressive work. 

I enjoy every track on the record, but there are few things that really get me excited every time I listen from track 3-6. “Born in Luton” is a masterpiece, and the guitar just bursts in right onto the scene with commanding intensity before the rhythm guitar begins Talking Heads-style dance-punk clicks and strumming. That alone would be great, but the track’s slowed, almost shoegaze-styled chorus takes it up to the next level. The next track, “March Day” then ups the ante with some unconventional time signatures, throwing in an extra two beats that leave you off kilter and a groovy bassline that connects it all together as the song builds in intensity and chaos. “Water In The Well” is more of a traditional post-punk track, but still messes around with timing. “Snow Day” is darker and softer, with a big climactic outro right after the bridge where the time shifts, creating one of the strongest moments on the album.

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