Five years ago, Shame was the band to watch. One of the surprisingly plentiful punk-adjacent bands coming out of the United Kingdom at the time, their 2018 debut, Songs of Praise, introduced the band as scrappy, energized, and ready to follow their whims. Drunk Tank Pink, their follow-up, showed growth in sound and scope, diving deeper into the cavern of youthful spunk and finding new pathways to explore along the way. Tomorrow (February 24th), the band returns with their third outing, Food for Worms — and it’s one for the mates.
“I think Drunk Tank Pink was pretty introverted. And through the course of that album, I guess, you get all of that out,” frontman Charlie Steen tells Consequence. “There’s only so much [time] you can spend inside yourself, or looking inwards, especially if it’s not selling.”
Whereas Drunk Tank Pink gave Steen space to exercise feelings of emotional turmoil, romantic woes, and existential dread, Food for Worms (surprisingly, given its memento mori name) finds a more contented catharsis. Opener and pre-album single “Fingers of Steel” establishes such a tone right out of the gate, reading like a pep-talk or heart-to-heart given to a friend who’s in need of advice. The airy piano, guitar stabs, and call-and-response vocals only serve to drive this feeling even further.
The band seems more interested in the idea of having fun this time around. Later tracks, like the wah-wah-laced “Six Pack” or the empathetic, anthemic “Adderall,” prove as much; it’s as if you can hear the smiles on their faces through their performances. It’s surprising, then, to learn of the strenuous process of recording, which was done almost entirely live in the studio with seasoned producer Flood behind the boards.
“It’s fucking hard,” Steen says of doing take after take. “It’s like Flood’s bootcamp, we’ll get sort of really healthy and shit like that. Constantly fucking working and being on our feet. ”
But even those unfamiliar with the technical differences in how Shame made Food for Worms and its predecessors will likely feel the difference. And for those who are familiar, it makes a damn good case to catch the band in concert.