The first time I ever came across Blood Red Shoes was way back in 2007 when they toured alongside Maximo Park and whilst Maximo Park have vanished from my iPod since then, Blood Red Shoes are as ever present as they were as soon as I could download their existing material. Since then the boy/girl duo of Steven Ansell and Laura-Mary Carter have reached modest trans-Atlantic recognition, most notably with their inclusion on the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World soundtrack. Teaming up with co-producer and long-time friend Mike Crossey the duo have promised a much bolder and "ambitious" (according to Carter) release this time.
Since the group's first LP Box of Secrets the most noticeable change - something that is immediately noticeable actually - is just how much they have matured musically. On opening track 'In Time To Voices' Carter's voice is waiflike, fitting idyllically over the shimmering guitar and snare-heavy drums. The tonal shift at the chorus becomes much heavier yet Carter maintains her eloquence. This is a long way off the wannabe punk ethic their music had at the close of last the decade and the duo certainly benefit from this shift. The production is squeaky clean, with Crossey and the group polishing off each instrument with precision, defining every element of the tracks. On 'Two Minute Dead,' probably the most ominous on the record, illustrates this precision with its utilisation of gentle harmonies and the subtle shaker in the background. Before it even has chance to sound languid the burst of drums and swirling guitars take hold, the move away from a typical single structure that the majority of groups catalogue offers is restructured here, their auspicious potential shining through. This must be the ambition Carter was hinting at.
For all their newfound restraint and focus, when they unleash their ferocity as they do on 'Je Me Perds' (or 'I Got Lost') they evoke the same brutal energy as Sonic Youth or Minor Threat. At 1.30 this is the band showcasing the distorted garage rock tenet found at the core of their major influences resonating through themselves; they pull it of faultlessly. For all the gleam of the production it's reassuring to see that the pair can still let their hair down and get away with it credibly. Essentially a pop-punk band with actual integrity and endurance, it is reassuring that they can shift between old and new on an album and come out unscathed and surely a sign that we can only expect improvement in the future.
In Time To Voices is a solid album, while the gleefully indie first album made them a noteworthy act, with standouts like 'ADHD' and 'I Wish I Was Someone Better.' Now the pair have evidently matured and are taking on a fresher approach to the way they write and record, this really is a triumph for the duo and surely now things can only improve for the Brighton duo.
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