The Kids Are Alright (and Their Music Is, Too)


Guitar music is alive and well in South London. Shame, a five-piece post-punk band barely out of their teens, is among the best of the new crop.

When you listen to Shame’s debut album Songs of Praise, which was released on January 12, you’ll hear elements of The Fall, Wire, and Gang of Four. But the band is entirely of the moment with tracks like “One Rizla,” the lead single, which is drenched with adolescent angst, but also the determination to move toward greater ease. Another standout is “Concrete,” which features a frenetic call and response between the band’s vocalist Charlie Steen and bassist Josh Finerty that mirrors what it’s like to be trapped in a draining relationship that seems doomed, and yet persists.

A deeper cut, “Friction” returns to explicitly political terrain covered on an earlier pre-album track, “Visa Vulture,” a vulgar tongue-in-cheek “ode” to Theresa May, which the band has described as “the world’s worst love song.” Like the great punk bands of yesteryear, Shame is confrontational and at times offensive—even feral. But embedded within all of that unvarnished grit is a conscience and honesty that feels uncalculated and refreshing. Songs of Praise is an impressive first outing. Shame may still be working it out, emotionally speaking, but one has the sense that the kids are alright.

Watch the official videos for “One Rizla” and “Concrete” below!

Allyson McCabe writes and produces stories about music for NPR, and her own subscription-based channel, Vanishing Ink. More from this author →