SHAME Songs Of Praise gets 8/10

Songs Of Praise
Dead Oceans/Inertia


It’s pretty safe to say a band that’s booked for Laneway can’t be all bad, and Shame are certainly no different. The up-and-coming quintet are debuting Songs of Praise on January 12; 10 tracks of post-punk gold, as weighty in sound as they are thoughtful.

Vocalist Charlie Steen’s vocal variety is immediately apparent, engaging his inner Nick Cave on tracks such as Dust On Trial and The Lick, and adopting a more melodic tone on One Rizla and Friction. The contrast between screamy and soft makes for a more gripping listen rather than being faced with a pattern of consistency.

Concrete’s call and response style works effectively and its delivery is dramatic, in a way you might expect of stage actors. When you get musicians engaging with their music in such a way, it’s a sure-fire sign they’re on the right track.

Along a similar vein is the spoken word style of multiple tracks including The Lick and Lampoon. You’d think it’d be droll, but Shame pull it off expertly. They’re like miniature audiobooks but with musical layers which enhance the tales being told.

Vocals aside, the music doesn’t jump out as anything too bold, but there’s nothing wrong with guitar rock at its best. Dirty riffs, insistent bass lines and a stock-standard drum bit to tie it all in; no complaints. Their highly regarded live reputation shines through immediately.

An array of topics are covered; possessive obsession in Dust On Trial, society’s morality on Friction and, perhaps most notably, a sugar daddy relationship on the sleazy Gold Hole. The latter is reminiscent of Stereotypes by Blur, just a whole lot heavier and definitely seedier.

Shame’s debut album will likely have you scrambling to book tickets to Laneway if you weren’t already going.