shame: Food For Worms album review – at their most chaotic…


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Rating: 4 out of 5.

Welcome to the underground.

After the vitriol-loaded Songs of Praise in the back-end of 2018 and gleaming psychosocial of Drunk Tank Pink in the Summer of 2021, you wouldn’t think the South London quintet would have much left in their own tank – with Alphabet covering the extent of their creativity catalogue – but think again. Food For Worms is a trademark post-punk album – raw, fragile and chaotic.

“When we started out, we went about it in a pretty teenage way.”

Now as an “ode to friendshipin the only way they know how, Food For Worms is a visceral chaotic-but concise feeling of true post-punk spirit. Messy collateral woven beautifully in a feeding frenzy of dynamic musicianship: “It’s weird, isn’t it? Popular music is always about love, heartbreak or yourself. There isn’t much about your mates.” And that’s exactly that. There’s a reassuring thought that it’s not just something that’s been cobbled together, but rather five people who have grown so close to one another. It’s no less frantic, than it is conventional. Their obtuse, and slightly awkward, chord patterns make up for it in enough tethered hooks in the melody lines to keep us occupied in their creative strides. Of course, shame have never been one to shy away from being the bold type in the scene. Their off-kilter discography is unnerving to many but that doesn’t shy away from the fact that the music is emotionally telling. Leader of the pack, Fingers of Steel harks back to tonal piano studs, staggered guitar frets but draws us in with a choral hook that makes it a triumphant gloss of pure energy.

Make no mistake, this is shame at their most un-cut, raw and untampered. That may be down to their arrowed approach to production or that could be simply because it’s the first “live” recording that they have done out of the three records they’ve released. With this, it brings a whole new meaning to their work, they are looking at themselves in a whole new light. Performing a live record is no easy feat, a surrender almost, as this fragility of perfection conforms to an new founded sense of bravery for the boys. Like the title suggests, it’s what lies below the surface is what’s important.

Six-Pack is a deplorable lightning-in-bottle quip, a loud noise that is very much alternative-80s. Yankees and Alibis are a shame as any shame before them. Blistering guitar gutturals and echoic vocals driving home a moody sound, that can sound like they’ve lost the plot somewhat cooped up in a dusty studio. Adderall brings them down from the cliff edge by beckoning you on to a hard lined drug; “It feels just like everything / You said that it would be / It’s just a momentary ecstasy.” For a fleeting moment, sense has been found in a blood rush of pent-up energy.

Burning By Design is a true shout-at-the-man-in-the-sky moment in the post-punk album. A ripple of psychological intensity, it gives off similar thematics that can be seen on the latter end of Drunk Tank Pink, an album that was very much four to the floor. All The People is a fiery singalong memoire that follows the same trajectory as The Couple Across The Way in Fontaines’ identity escapade. Not nearly as hauntingly similar to Irish intonation, but equally as decisive in an anthem for the ages.

With all that said and done, you can’t help but wonder the potential of such an album here. For all it’s musical morality and brutal broadenings, it does lose its marker throughout and often has to be reminded at what point it’s at in turn.

You can’t argue with the stalwart singles though. You certainly can’t argue the sheer ferocity and care-free nature of such an album; perhaps mirroring the perfection of what it takes to make a roasted post-punk album true to form?


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