It doesn’t take much for UK punk rockers Shame to leave an impression. From the group’s thrashy guitars to the unpredictable eccentricity of its frontman, Charlie Steen, Shame has the makings to be both a literal and figurative showstopper. Songs of Praise, the group’s debut full-length, effectively channels that manic energy into a tightly wound, 10-track experience worthy of the hype built on three years of relentless live shows.
“Concrete,” the first single released earlier, is a snarling sojourn into the experience of someone who’s trapped in a relationship and being “pummeled into surrender,” according to Steen. Its call-and-response style structure takes full advantage of the angsty theme to provide a bedrock of alternating contempt and self-doubt. “One Rizla,” the lead single from the album, finds the group dialing back the aggressiveness in favor of a clean guitar hook and a straight ahead beat to give Steen’s vocals the space to hang in the open. He sings, “I’m not that much to look at… but if you think I love you, you’ve got the wrong idea”–a perfect encapsulation of the raw emotionalism mixed with wounded hubris juxtaposition that plays as a theme throughout the album.
Although running only 39 minutes, Songs of Praise hits enough high notes with its pithy instrumentals and visceral lyrics to make each one of those minutes a force to be reckoned with.