On August 31st, East End Londoner Pete Boyd released his 11- track debut album. Book of Shame is a collection of songs by Boyd and Gary Bridgewood, a mult-talented duo who did not plan on starting a band but next thing we know is that a visit to a violin repair shop then turned into a recording session and the rest is history.
Book of Shame's new album by the same name is a gritty, punk, lyrically catchy and distinctive. It is reminiscent of a little David Bowie mixed in with The Velvet Underground. "Killing Pickle" is the first song on the album which brings a catchy melody. The lyric "you've got your wires crossed" made the punk side of me was quite happy.
“I Think I Love You" is a young punk love song with an incredibly catchy chorus, striking lyrics, and easily imagined as a teen early 2000s love anthem. The drums and lyrics together are so complementary, that this almost made me doubt that this is a debut first time album. It's as if they were a match made years ago.
You can catch the David Bowie inspiration in "Compatibility." Pete Boyd has a distinctive Bowie-esque sound. It may have helped that the lyrics include a layered robotic sound and lyrics including the stars, moon, and "clutching on to straws of our / Compatibility.” In sing song and also poetic statements this otherworldly song echoes a grasping on togetherness. The crescendoing guitar solo then overcomes the lyricist and you get in on the added layer of melancholy.
Introductory acoustic guitar transports us to Spain in "Barcelona." Such a romantic "pact to back each other up." Jo, Gary Bridgewood’s wife, is a guest vocalist. The capturing of changing faces of love from the "not being the man I knew you on the beach."
"Ding Dong," takes us out of the acoustic realm of the previous song and back into the electronic soundscape. "Sometimes it makes me sad to think you are so lonely... But I learned to grow some wings so now I'm flying over the walls and over the hills..." A moving on, a coming away from the past. We also get a little bit of saxophone with the drums and guitar which is a surprisingly fantastic addition that you would not think would work, but somehow they made it work. "Ding Dong, the witch is dead... the witch is dead from my head!"
We move into a more solemn and reflective song on the album entitled "Inertia" with the repeating lyrics "tell me you didn't do it." That sinking feeling with the electronics, and bass taking the lead really shows the multi-instrumental mastery of the team. "Let Me Go" feels like a continuation of “Inertia." However instead of the bass being the leading instrument, the drums are the takeover this time around.
"Drifting" features Bridgewood's friend BJ Cole. It is a haunting melody on personal evolution, friendship and safety. This song definitely has a unique sound with Cole on guitar. You can feel the conversation of vocal and guitar in a complementary way. "Sometimes I feel like crying… to think that you might be drifting…" We get a fully rounded song that allows you to hear the full spectrum of instruments. “Damned” revolves around guitar, vocals, drums and a collective choir. This is the reckoning and recognition of the narrative being crafted in the album.
This is reenforced with "Ponytail Blues.” We all know the theme this song as which is that intense feeling of young love and just feeling the wall of nonreciprocal love.
It would be too sad if we were left with "Ponytail Blues," so "Hope and Glory" is the final song on the album. "Spine is realigned... undefined... stumbling through doors... sounds like a fable." It's the phoenix breaking down and rising from the ashes song. It is a bit disorienting but coming out clear with the synths and drums.
This emotional storytelling debut from Book of Shame is a nod to David Bowie. It includes gothic punk and multi-instrumentalist anthems. I highly recommend a listen through. I kept thinking of these background songs for teen anthems. It is a fantastic debut from an accidental chance encounter of two great artists.
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