Brighton based duo with a "total fascination for the cello", but tired of White Stripes comparisons, release their 'difficult second' album. Blood Red Shoes follow up to 2008's debut, Box Of Secrets, finds the band slightly more polished and produced but lacking the promised Justin Timberlake influence! (I think Mr Ansell may have been jesting but you never know)
Having potently captured their live sound on their first album delivering a raw energy to the next was unlikely. The passion for the music is clearly still in evidence, manifesting itself throughout Fire Like This. The edgy and anxious feel to Box Of Secrets has been replaced with a maturity and collective cohesion derived from their extensive touring, attention to detail and their ever developing song writing skills.
Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell describe their song writing techniques as "spontaneous" and "kinda like getting in a car and not steering it." It is with some degree of amazement then that such a package of fiery delights are set alight so brilliantly on their second album. The intensity within each tune has not been rubbed out by their more confident style of production. Mike Cassey, producer on both albums, and BRS, can both take credit for moving the sound forward without losing the very essence of the band.
Fire Like This opens with Blood Red Shoes going at break neck speed to belt out a tune more than worthy of 'Single Of The Week' over on NME radio. Play it twice and you can forget the similarity to Monster by The Automatic . The heady guitar work and frenzied drumming stop and start between wild alternations on vocal duty between Steven and Laura-Mary. (Apparently who sings what part isn't really decided "It's just whoever starts singing first, there's no real debate about it"). The first single, 'Light It Up', segues up next to bring proceedings to an early thunderous peak. The anthemic chorus and thumping beat deliver the albums equivalent to 'Doesn't Matter Much'. Where the band start to show their sonic evolution is on 'When We Wake', coincidentally, or not, Steven's favourite from the new material. The less shouty vocal, tempered guitar, subdued drums and melodic repetitive format suiting Laura's more sensitive side.
'Keeping It Close' ramps the pace right back up, just in case you were scarred they'd gone all soft. The songs structure does however highlight the slight shift in technique and is a clear example of the progressiveness of their new music. 'Count Me Out' sees Laura's vocals, not for the first time, go all Sonya Maden whilst two thirds of the way through she can be just about be forgiven for briefly resurrecting the sound of Big Country! 'Heartsink' sees some more fabulous fret work and taught drumming from the Sussex duo as they nail a sure crowd pleaser on the live set. 'Follow The Lines' is another venture into slightly unchartered, poppier, territory and even sees the introduction of strings set against a more reserved, over layered arrangement. Closing off is Laura-Mary's choice cut of the ten, 'Colours Fade'. Feedback and fuzz accompany a darker sound that perfectly partners the couples contrasting vocals.
Fire Like This is an accomplished follow up to Box Of Secrets. A more confident offering that sees Blood Red Shoes embark on some new musical directions as well as honing their formidable skill of writing punchy musical tornadoes. The energy is still within the band and the potency has not been tempered making the vibrancy of the tunes infectious.