Book Of Shame are an alternative rock from London founded by Pete Boyd (vocals, electric guitar) and Gary Bridgewood (guitars, basses, synths, mandolin, violin, strings, vocals). The two members bonded on a shared love of alternative artists and you can hear a wealth of influences in their work from Nick Cave’s band The Birthday Party to the more avant garde side of David Bowie, along with Wire, Talking Heads, Captain Beefheart and The Velvet Underground.
The result is a completely unique sound, with eclectic styles brought together in an inimitable way, what they have termed “acoustic-electronic-ambient-rock”. They began releasing material in 2018, with their first single Compatibility. This track, Hope and Glory, is taken from their eleven track album, simply called ALBUM.
It’s a seven minute tour de force that flicks two fingers at everything that’s conventional about songwriting and what constitutes a typical single. Opening in a blaze of angular guitar lines, Pete Boyd’s highly distinctive vocals enter along with primal, tribal drums courtesy of Fergus Gerrand.
Boyd’s gripping vocal performance holds the whole thing together, his vocal style like a mixture of Syd Barrett, Howard Devoto, Wire’s Colin Newman and, at times, Captain Beefheart. The music walks the tightrope between chaos and order and this sense of disorientation is captured in the lyrics to the first verse: “Everything is changing, head is rearranging, spine is realigned…undefined”.
The music expands and grows into unexpected territory, with a powerful passage featured synth brass and a visceral section of razor-sharp lead guitar. It then breaks down to strummed acoustic guitar then builds back up to a colossal wall of sound with Boyd wailing “Welcome to the land of hope and glory…”, perhaps a sardonic comment about Brexit-era Britain.. It ends in a pile up of rapid drum fills and raging guitars, a tumultuous climax.
Overall, this is a hugely engaging and original alternative rock song that embraces an array of genres, from fringe punk to prog rock and everything in between. Pete Boyd makes for a compelling, idiosyncratic lead vocalist and the way the band fuse eclectic styles to form an epic one of their own recalls Radiohead, circa Paranoid Android. If something truly different is just what you’re searching for, take a walk on the wild side with Book of Shame.
VERDICT= 8.7 out of 10