Let us praise all that is holy and unholy in respect of the return of our post-punk overlords, Shame. The band are back with their first new music since 2018’s Songs of Praise and, as well as coming with a typically wonderful video, the song is fully-loaded with angular riffs and incessant energy that suggests the band have spent lockdown rattling around their cages awaiting release. It’s safe to say that ‘Alphabet’ is our Track of the Day.
As lockdown looks set to return once more and the scourge of this pandemic threatens to restrict us to our abodes for another bout of boredom, sometimes we need a shot in the arm or a slap to the face just to make sure we’re all still alive and kicking. Luckily, we have south London’s finest ready and willing with fists clenched and syringes primed for poking.
Produced by James Ford and with a truly brilliant, if not a little infuriating (why can’t they sit down properly!?), video directed by Tegen Williams, Shame have made sure that their return landed with maximum impact and with a song that sets the foundations for their year ahead. Alongside the announcement of new music, the group also shared that a “show” would take place in Electric Ballroom in Brixton next year.
But enough of that guff, let’s get down to the music, it’s something that the band would prefer we do anyway. After all, this was the group that shunned the extra attention the ‘south London punk scene’ was getting a few years back in favour of burying themselves in their work and creating one of the most arresting records of the last few years. It is a dedication which has been taken on to ‘Alphabet’, too.
“‘Alphabet’ is a direct question, to the audience and the performer, on whether any of this will ever be enough to reach satisfaction,” Shame frontman Charlie Steen said in a press release. “At the time of writing it, I was experiencing a series of surreal dreams where a manic subconscious was bleeding out of me and seeping into the lyrics. All the unsettling and distressing imagery I faced in my sleep have taken on their own form in the video.”
The video does a very good job of matching the intensity of the sound which ranges across a rock spectrum of punk, post-punk, math rock and other forms of pointless categorisation. All the hallmarks of a great Shame song are here: the intense rhythm, an angular and choppy riff capable of tearing its way into your brain forever, all completed by Steen’s advantageous and engaging lyrics and a beer-spilling sing-a-long chorus. The real joy of this song is that it is the aforementioned balled-up fist to our collective bottom lips.
If there was one band we thought could lead us out of this dreadful situation with a sense of balance and moral integrity then it was the boys from Shame. Now that they have arrived with the proof of their leadership qualities with ‘Alphabet’ we’re just going to pack up our stuff and wait for further instruction.
If you need any more hints as to who the next big British band will be, let us leave you with a big one, Shame are the real deal.