The Brighton-based pair’s pop-rock sound has been refined to an admirably high shine.
Natalie Hardwick 2012
From a David Lynch-obsessed boy-girl duo with a background in discordant punk you might expect a musical slant that teeters on the subversive. But while Blood Red Shoes displayed an erratic style back in 2010 on second album Fire Like This, this third feels highly thought-out and polished. Given their eight-year career and ambitious ethos, the shift is perhaps inevitable, and for the most part the strategy pays off.
There are some favourite tactics on this album that are tried and tested. Opener In Time To Voices, for instance, starts with It’s Blitz-period Yeah Yeah Yeahs vocals from guitarist Laura-Mary Carter, softly setting a lucid scene. The bridge quickens the pace before Steve Ansell’s boisterous drums flip the sound into a scuzzy tempest. This structure is repeated throughout, and the contrast between the pair’s approaches is one of the band’s marked strengths.
On Lost Kids the Brighton-based duo share vocal duties, Carter’s pirouetting an octave above Ansell’s hoarse hum, proclaiming they “can’t find their way / already buried anyway” (untrue, given how comfortable they sound with their matured sound). Carter’s signature guitar riffs have also been streamlined. Erstwhile Foals producer Mike Crossey has been a valuable mentor, adding some real shimmer when finishing off this masterful project.
Particularly impressive is how palpably the band member’s personas shine. Ansell’s background is in the chaotic hardcore of bands like Cat on Form. His energy is most buoyant in Je Me Perds, which angrily bursts in with a scream and 90s hardcore drum throbs. Carter adds some Poly Styrene-esque vocals here, but it’s on preceding track Night Light that her winsome nature is echoed in mournful, pared-down acoustic beauty.
However much this album leaps about, a pastiche of various genres, there are some deliberately bankable and commercially viable songs clearly set for single release. Cold, for instance, has a driving guitar riff, pattering drum rolls and an anthemic pop chorus – sure enough, it’s this LP’s lead single. But this is a band unafraid of hard graft and whose songwriting approach has grown to be admirably astute, so for this they can be forgiven.