From the promo pics and marketing hype, you'd think that London-based band Shame were the second coming of The Libertines or something, all Britpop dirtied up (even more) for a new decade. And to label the band so cavalierly would be to do them a disservice as the group's debut, Songs Of Praise, out in the US via Dead Oceans on Friday, is far more varied and distinctive than one might otherwise guess. Shame seem intent on creating a very big commotion in the very best way possible.
If openers "Concrete" and "Dust On Trial" offer up more mature takes on the sort of late period Britpop once dropped on us by the likes of Hard-Fi, then superb early single "One Rizla" proves that Shame are the real deal and not just (very late) bandwagon-jumpers. The cut is full of bad intent and there's loads here that should appeal to fans of not just British stuff but Yank acts like Afghan Whigs, for instance. Elsewhere, "Tasteless" and "Donk" are serviceable shout-y anthems that seem suitably grimy, while the more menacing "Gold Hole" seems more original and well-considered. There's a hint here of stuff like early Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds numbers, even if the threat levels are more juvenile and less Biblical. Still, Shame manage to bring a lot of real unease to things here on Songs Of Praise, and if each number is not entirely as distinctive as one would like them to be, at least Shame are getting it done with a lot of racket-and-rage. A minor misstep with mellow closer "Angie" is forgotten when a listener returns to Fall-inspired numbers like "Friction" here, and one is rewarded by the band's energy on this one, and others on the record.
Songs Of Praise is not perfect, so it seems less likely to be the sort of thing unfairly hyped by guys like me who usually fall all over themselves in praising anything like this from England. Still, Shame make fairly workable and effective rock and, more often than not, Songs Of Praise succeeds at both advancing the template for this sort of thing and obliterating the memory of loads of lesser Britpop bands from a listener's mind.
[Photo: Courtesy of the band via the label]