Food For Worms

(Dead Oceans)


The British music industry is an ever-winding Spaghetti Junction. A labyrinthine high-rise car-park. A sprawling library of buzzwords. And on their incandescent third record Food For Worms, British rockers Shame are transmitting deep from within its maze.

The ten tetchy songs on show here don’t run, but veer, bolstered by a new recording approach that is less compartmentalized and freer than the London quintet’s previous two records. Spiky guitars, thumping drums and full-bodied yells all merge aggressively without even a glance at the side mirror. Sprinkle in the band’s grander architecture regarding its song-structure and almost every track erupts into a seven-lane pile-up by its end.

However, buried beneath the swinging disintegration that is the soul of every song are the brittle bodies of words let out in berated breath by vocalist Charlie Steen who is seeking to free the Minotaur within his own mind, uttering lyrics so stripped back, that they start to show bone. 

Tracks such as ‘Different Person’ revel in the cataclysmic dismantlement of sound while Steen neurotically instructs himself to “Buy blacker shoes / Cut shorter hair / Use bigger words like ‘debonair’”. It’s an intense dissection, but at its heart this LP is not a containment but a prison-break, which culminates in the bruising but liberating closer ‘All the People’ – a glorious light at the end of the tunnel. 

Food For Worms is harrowing in its archaic meaning, derived from Jesus’ biblical ‘Harrowing of Hell’ where he descended to the underworld between his crucifixion and resurrection to bring salvation. Jesus died for our sins, but as the opening lyrics of ‘Burning by Design’ proclaims, Steen “sold my life for you”.