Shame: Food For Worms - Track by track review

Scroll down and check out our thoughts on Shames's third record!

Skiddle Staff

Date published: 24th Feb 2023

Shame have oft been a band unfairly categorised in the same bracket as ‘post-punk’ contemporaries that broke at a similar time. The likes of Black Midi, Dry Cleaning, Fonatines DC, and Black Country, New Road. To group any of these widely different bands together in itself is lazy, given their distinct differences, Yet, with Shame, it felt even lazier. As the roots of their influences, particularly on their latest record, Food For Worms, are so clearly from a different species of plant.

With the wild success of their late teen release Songs Of Praise making them one of the talks of the town, and their second release, Drunk Tank Pink, carrying on the captivating creativity, feeling somewhat absent of something that made the first record so special (with drummer Charlie Forbes recently reflecting that “We were trying to be too clever”). Food For Worms brings it all together, feeling mature, accomplished, and from a band certain of what they are trying to achieve and who they want to be.

The record is still recognisably a Shame one. Frantic drum lines and schizophrenic string plucking still pepper its tracks, but when taken holistically, the record feels like it's got a vision. This could be in the loose themes throughout on the trials and tribulations of friendships, instead of the well-trodden path of romantic relationships. With Charlie Steen realising after a show that popular music is almost always about heartbreak and self-exploration, telling the NME that: “There isn’t much about your mates.” Or it could be inferred as more generally being about all the relationships in our lives, with some numbers still touching on romantic love. 

Whatever the case, Shame are well and truly at their best on Food For Worms, and below you can find out what we thought of each track on their third record. 



Fingers of Steel

The first single from the album, and the first sign of a light change in sonic direction for the band. The track is about helping a mate and the frustrations that come with it. It’s coming to terms with the fact that people can’t be who you want them to be and sometimes there isn’t anything you can do to help, it’s their own thing they have to work out for themselves and you have to accept that. Erratic and forward, but at the same time earnest and anthemic; the perfect intro to this much more mature record.




This change in direction is felt in full force with the psychedelic wahs that punctuate this track. Yet there are still elements of the band's more direct and angrier past with the drum line. Charlie teen describes this one as the anti-Room 101. Constant references appear to the things ‘within this room’ with it rear-ending every verse. It’s expressing the fact that we have done our time behind bars in the past few years and it’s time for your wildest desires to come true and be showered upon you.




The first of a few introspective steps back in the record, coming at a nice spot after the first two blistering opening tracks; Yankees is a ballad steeped in bitter truths about a toxic relationship. With lines like ‘You hat? my job, ‘Cause it's what you want to do, And all of my friends, they hat? you too’ see lead singer Steen almost therapeutically expelling the problems the relationship caused. With the track descending into heavy realms of chaos as it goes on. Seems rather indicative of the relationship, no?




Alibis is the first track on the record where you can hear smatterings of the Shame we had grown used to, with frantic picking and a cacophonous rage imbued within, the frantic chants of ‘Jack wants to fuck me? I question that I question that I question that’ burrow in your brain thanks to the rapid-fire delivery of the tune and its staccato nature. Razor-sharp lyricism and an angry track are indicative of the band. 




Probably the most surprising tune on the record, particularly after it follows the immediacy of ‘Alibis’ and the fact that you’d assume a Shame track named after a drug would try to emulate the feeling of it. Yet, this is one of the most reserved and intimate we’ve ever seen from the band. Exploring the degradation of a friend after he slips into a prescription drug addiction, ruining his relationships and personality; It’s a song of compassion and frustration and at the same an open realisation that sometimes your help and love can’t cure those around you. A flag flyer for the album's themes around friendship, and probably the best track on the record, and it is no surprise it was the last single before release, truly excellent.




Another track that steers into uncharted territory for the band. Orchid is a crooning Waltz-timed ballad that could be mistaken for a love song. But instead delves back into the themes of friendship, this time steeped nostalgically around the loss of a boyhood friendship, and how these adolescent friendships, which at the time you feel will last forever, often get lost in the confusion of adult life. Deep introspection hidden within frantic post-punk instrumentation; quintessentially Shame.



The Fall of Paul

With a raucous energy, drenched in feedback and an industrial tone, The Fall Of Paul is Shame climbing back down to their roots, and well and truly taking the gloves off. Don't even get us started on the absolutely filthy bass tone that kicks in at the minute mark, a moment we’ll be eagerly awaiting the next time we catch them live. Well and truly showcasing how, despite the change in tone found on this record, they have not taken steps back from their sound, it's still there it's just more developed, and they choose carefully the moments to let loose, and they’ve placed this one absolutely perfectly. 



Burning By Design

As with Adderall, Shame chooses on this record to follow one of the heaviest tracks with one of the most subdued (well until the last 30 seconds during which the wheels completely fly off). The song is peppered with accusatory throughlines that oft border on the confrontational, culminating in the chorus line “I don’t care about the songs that use these chords / I am sure there’s plenty more / But I know they’re not the same.” With an end that seems to give up completely and descend into an arrangement, the chords of which we’re pretty sure haven't been used before.



Different Person

Different person is another solid track that leans into the theme of friendship, but again, like in Orchid, through the lens of those lost to time. It sits in a position many of us have been in before, that where we watch in discomfort as a friend changes everything about themselves, everything you once loved. But, it lands on an unexpected note of acceptance, an acceptance that, despite the changes, you know who they really are: “You’re still the same to me even though you speak with a different accent now for fun.”



All the People

The culminating track to Food For Worms is a very fitting one. A near-six-minute ode to brotherly love that will undoubtedly cause widespread singalongs at their next string of live shows, it encapsulates the themes of friendship and the many ways in which we experience it, perfectly. The Lyrics shine through on this track, one in which the band have chosen to leave out their signature frantic edge, and instead, opt for a celebratory tone. “Oh, when you're smiling and you're looking at me / A life without that in / Is a life I can't lead.” If there was a line to capture the essence of this record, it's this one. 




Shame will be starting their UK tour next month, and if you do not have tickets, then don't worry, as there are still some available on Skiddle for their Manchester and Liverpool dates, tickets to which you can find at the bottom of this page!




Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.










Tickets for Shame at New Century, Manchester -  Saturday 11th March 2023

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Tickets for Shame at Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool -  Wednesday 8th March 2023

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