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CD of The Week

Week of 3/06/23

    Shame - Food For Worms (Dead Oceans)

    The UK post-post-punk revival is entering a new phase. For fear of the novelty wearing off, some bands are taking their sounds in different directions. For Shame, they entered the studio with producer Flood (U2, Depeche Mode, Nick Cave) and recorded live for their third album, Food For Worms. Lead singer Charlie Steen also hired a vocal coach and actually sings on many of these 10 new songs. While he won't be remembered for classically trained vocals, it sufficiently breaks up the moments in between the intense shout-singing employed on the rest of the album. There are new layers in the musicality as well; acoustic guitars, strong background vocals, and an emotional vulnerability that pairs well with their raucous edge.

    In an interview with NME, Steen states that "Popular music is about love, heartbreak, or yourself, but there isn't much about you mates." Themes of friendship permeate the record, with observations of addiction, helplessness, and change. "Adderall,"" one of the highlights, speaks to the drudgery of watching a loved one suffer at the hands of prescription drug addiction. "Different Person" seems to be about a friend who can't decide who they want to be, while the opening track "Fingers of Steel" makes the case that sometimes friends can't be who you want them to be. This dichotomy is the source of much angst throughout the album.

    Track #2 is "Six-Pack," which breaks right out of the gate with some 90's Brit-rock effects-laden wah-wahs, then briefly settles into a spoken word bridge, before returning with a noisy finale. "Yankees" follows with an intro of soft guitar noodling, breaking up the controlled chaos of the first two tracks, signaling that this isn't just another shouty punk record. "Orchid" is downright ballad-like with its strumming guitar melody and Steen's melancholic vocals, a lament on nostalgia and youthful love; "We were tourists in adolescence."

    Aside from a multitude of U.K. influences, Food For Worms equally nods to U.S. slack rockers like Pavement and to U.S. post-punk icons Interpol. It's energetic, lively, and chaotic, and adds depth with sincerity and intimacy. The choice to develop their approach, rather than just amble by with the same old-same old, is a testament to the spirit of this band who clearly enjoy themselves and what they are accomplishing. Don't miss Shame live in concert here in Philadelphia at Union Transfer on Saturday, May 13th.
    Review by Dave Lindquist

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