Shame: Songs of Praise
Concrete is a bracing jolt of a song, racing forward on a tightly wound post-punk riff, its call-and-response vocals capturing the turmoil and schizophrenic internal dialogue of the song's subject matter.
"It's about someone who's trapped in a relationship and they're being pummelled into surrender," says singer and lyricist Charlie Steen. "It's not about a physically abusive relationship - more an emotionally and psychologically draining one. The call-and-response vocals [between Steen and bassist Josh Finerty] is the central figure's own internal dialogue. They are dealing with two different things that they don’t want to address."
The band cite The Fall, Country Teasers, Television Personalities and Wire among their biggest influences, and the icily claustrophobic sound of Concrete sets it in a lineage with Magazine, Joy Division.
As a lyricist, Steen is a modern flÃ¢neur, forensically observing the lives of others around him as they unspool and fracture, with Hubert Selby Jr and Irvine Welsh his primary literary influences. "That graphic and harsh style of writing always interested me," he explains. "It's not about the shock factor; it’s about the fact they are talking about these things in such great detail without stripping anything back."
The London five piece have swiftly earned a reputation as one of the most visceral and exhilarating live bands in the UK, their combustible shows being honed through a heavy touring schedule in the UK and across Europe. Cutting their teeth on the squat-punk scene in the Queen’s Head in Brixton in 2015, where they were taken under the wing of Fat White Family, the white heat of their gigs quickly landed them support slots with Slaves and Warpaint. They were also personally invited by Billy Bragg to play the Left Field stage at Glastonbury this year.
Following two singles - the AA single The Lick/Gold Hole and Tasteless on Fnord Communications as well as the digital-only Theresa May-baiting Visa Vulture (described by Steen as "the worst love song ever") - Concrete is the first track to be released as part of their record deal with Dead Oceans.
"We started this band as a joke that went too far," deadpans Steen. "What we do is quite strange and quite weird, but I get to meet a lot of people and I get to hear a lot of things. I am interested in the surrealism of reality."