With its well-received unleashing in Europe through Bords de Seine, Lion Records, and Last Rockers, and an even more recent uncaging as a 500 strong Limited Edition Picture Disk in the US via Rebel Sound Music, debut album Guilt from punks Shameless is an impressively solid and potent introduction to the French band. A feisty attitude drenched mix of old school and oi punk, the Lyon based quartet’s sound hits the spot forcibly and honestly, no overblown sonic theatrics or candy coated hooks cluttering their straightforward anthemic antagonism. Guilty is an album which does not hold many surprises or always gets the blood boiling but it certainly rouses and incites a healthy appetite for the promising sound and future provocations from the band.
The seeds of the band go back to 2009 when vocalist/guitarist Pépito moves to Lyon and meets bassist Nico of the Rude Gones. They talk of getting a band up together, a suggestion which is given an opportunity to be realised when the Rude Gones split in the October of 2010. Writing together, the pair then recruit ex-Urban Gones drummer Scooter into their English Oi! inspired project. The band’s second gig saw them opening for La Souris Déglinguée, West Side Boys, and Warrior Kids to eager responses, a spark the band took into the making of their first full-length. Six months in the making the album came out to strong reactions swiftly followed by equally potent responses when the band around the time of its release played a show to celebrate the anniversary of the band Bad Gones with La Souris Déglinguée, Booze & Glory and Wayne Barrett of Slaughter and the Dogs. Unveiling second guitarist and ex-Urban Gones Gilles, who had already played as a guest with them on stage previously, as a permanent addition to the band at the show, Shameless show themselves ready and poised to take their DIY bred sound and presence to the punk passions of the world. A quest you feel if not with this album is a certainty within one of their near horizons.
The title track arrives on sirens to open things up, public disorder soon sound-tracked by stirring riffs and crisp rhythms soaked in anthemic weight. The vocals of Pépito, gruff and slightly antagonistic, join the charge as the song stomps with addictive grooves and equally compelling hooks. Its prime bait has an essence of The Sweet meets Suburban Studs to it, the song as a whole an excellent and infectious doorway into the release.
The following Friday Night Losers backs up the starter with its own incitement of riling rhythms and caustic riffery driven by uncompromising but welcoming vocals. There is little to surprise in the song though it avoids real predictability with ease, as does its successors 30 Years Tomorrow and Bastard!. The first taunts ears with a great throaty bassline and a quietly riotous stance around an irresistible chorus whilst the second instantly eyeballs senses and thoughts, bawling them out with another potently contagious chorus within abrasing sounds and vocals. As with most of the songs there are very few really striking hooks that viciously grip but it does not stop tracks like this from becoming a lingering and memorable pleasure.
Both the unruly chant fest Oi! For My Nation and the outstanding We Are the Boys keep attention hungry for the release, the second of the two one of the major highlights of the release. With a delicious twang to the again predacious bass sound and a swagger to the vocal inducement, the track is a fiery encounter though like all the songs it is fair to say it does not explore or antagonise enough for personal tastes, almost holding itself in check for some reason.
Men With Ties is a raw graze for the senses, its threatening to brawl approach a magnetic lure to spark up another flame of excited satisfaction whilst the next up Vote For Shameless has a reserved but definite Angelic Upstarts feel to its rebellion, a fight which is veined by a Buzzcocks like great hook and the only really attention seeking one on the album. From the pleasing recruitment drive Disappointing Friend steps in next to make a strong and enjoyable statement if without rivalling anything before its appearance. It is a decent enough song but lacks the spark and infectious suasion of others, though that toxicity is soon back fuelling the passions through Fashion Week. The track is a commanding and confronting bruising with the primal rhythmic combativeness and scolding riffery all the great punk songs unload on the senses. The best track on the album it is an invigorating barracking bringing the heart of the album to a close before final track provides an epilogue through its live version of Virage Nord, the Oi! hymn of Urban Gones.
Guilt is a great rage parading the potential and punk voracity of a band it is easy to keep an eager eye upon. Once Shameless find their distinct voice and unshackle their reserve you can expect major fireworks ahead, whilst right now they simply provide a thoroughly pleasing and rousing experience…something never easy to refuse.
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