No shame in feeding the worms and there is no Food for Worms without Shame, a biting gift from the indie art punk of the here and now. One of the smartest punk albums to ever hit shelves. Here it is right on all those streaming devices and all those bits of popular plastic. Self-loathing because the peak has not been hit, ironically, presents Shame with the chance to hit that starstruck quality opening track Fingers of Steel mocks and understands. Nothing gets done paying attention to others and Shame have survived on without it. C’est la vie. So be it. That attitude feels genuine. Shame is, as ever, thoroughly focused on creating good sound and great experiences that will get them to the top without chasing hashtags and trends. Their listeners and beyond could learn a thing or two.
Six-Pack, with its blocky, Wrestling Empire-like graphics for a music video, gives Eddie Green and Sean Coyle-Smith some room to showcase their disgustingly brilliant riffs and grinds. Those post-hardcore whines and groans that close out the track hit the right pace as Yankees does too, and Food for Worms cements a change of pace that lets them stick out in a spoken-word-stuffed genre. Desperate whining just barely heard over the crashing scope of exceptional guitar on Yankees is the stuff that every post-punk outfit is clamouring for, searching their soul for. Shame got their fire first. Had Alibis been harsher it would slot in toward IDLES’ debut album. But it does not and it should not as Shame has pushed on through with a marriage of grunge-like guitar sways and delicate, broad strokes from the mouth of Charlie Steen.
Even with those screeching and repetitive cries for amphetamine salts, the reductive qualities of Adderall, for all its underlying family drama, are a bit of a miss. Not as swaggering and bold, nor as self-confronting or touched as the tracks that precede it. But one solid-if-shaky track out of a bunch is no reason to cast it all aside. Still, Steen and company launch themselves into Adderall with such conviction it is hard not to feel something, anything, toward it. That is half the battle and Food for Worms has plenty of leftovers, providing track after track that feeds the mind and soul. It is a minor blip on a spotless run, with the gut-punch of Orchid roaring through once more, a beautiful pairing of acoustic and electric work on a bed of percussion relentlessly brought to the table by Charlie Forbes. The Fall of Paul feels ready to collapse with the band inside it but charting that and understanding it is the whole point of Food for Worms. Nothing lasts forever, but long may Shame reign.
Shame is one of those records. You know the one. The one where, as the needle lifts, you start scratching at the seams of the vinyl, seeing if it will split in two and offer up more. It is nauseous to think it does not. This is it. But what a powerhouse of a record. A cry for help and a creative, necessary surge against the time of now. This is an album that cements survival. Few have made it past three albums and fewer still have continued after it. Shame has hit that third album. They have crossed the Rubicon and stapled their quality to their hands. Shaking the ground and striking through at something, anything, yet with such conviction, is a powerful statement that wraps a breakout trilogy.