It is a tough age, indeed. During the recording of their sophomore album, 2015’s I Get the Feeling Central, founding Tough Age members Jarrett Samson and Penny “Agamemnon” Clark were, like so much of the city’s great talent, compelled to make the move from the increasingly unaffordable Vancouver to Toronto, and change has been a constant ever since.
Most notably, Tough Age has streamlined from a quartet to a trio, adding on drums the notorious Jesse Locke, with whom Clark plays in Century Palm, but Clark’s increased workload on vocals cannot be overlooked. She takes the lead on “Me in Glue”, a thrashy garage-rocker that puts Tough Age in line with the Courtneys, and the sizzling reconfiguration of “Ghost” by the Drearies, taking it a little more up-tempo and a lot tighter than the original.
Even in flux, Tough Age continued its career trajectory with Shame, moving farther away from the literal garage sound towards more polished productions, without sacrificing an iota of energy. Some 20 tracks were recorded for this album, tastefully edited down to the eight essential cuts. The false start and chuckle on “Piquant Frieze” add to the live-off-the-floor feel they were going for, and achieved most spectacularly on the closing title track, which progs out for 10 of the album’s 32 minutes, ending on an experimental simmering of effects and hum that puts you right there in the studio with them. Shame is all pleasure, no guilt.