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Raised from the ashes of now defunct bands Lady Muck and Cat On Form comes Blood Red Shoes- the partnership of musicians Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell. Like many duos, they work together as a team and have found mixed success having played everywhere from performing in the kitchen of someone’s flat to playing on the same bill as Rage Against the Machine. Steadily building momentum over the last few years the band released their first album in 2008 and are following it up with this year’s “Fire Like This”.
Gritty, grungy rock with vocals that alternate between Carter’s feminine croon and Ansell’s emotional wail is what’s on offer here. Both members of the band have their own vocal style that complements the other and which together suit their brand of rock music.
The album’s highlight is delivered early in the form of “Light It Up”. It has this fantastic dichotomy between loud and soft dynamics with a quiet verse comprised of an inconspicuous guitar and drum combo that meanders along until it’s interrupted by this grungy, distorted chorus that’s complete with Ansell’s cries of “light it up!”. It’s a bold tune that harks back to the sound of early 90s grunge in the sense that it uses the same kind of contrast between loud and soft sections that made songs like Nirvana’s iconic “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and the Pixie’s “Tame” memorable.
This formula of juxtaposing the soothing with the shrill actually pops up quite a bit during the album on tracks like “One More Empty Chair” and “When We Wake”, the latter beginning as a slow burner that builds up into a crescendo of Carter’s repetitive chant and fuzzy guitars. And while it works in this case, it’s not to say the band are a one trick pony who rely on this method of songwriting for the entire stretch of the album, as they maintain a more straightforward alternative rock sound elsewhere akin to bands like Silversun Pickups or The Subways.
Carter and Ansell share the vocal spotlight on “Keeping It Close”, “Count Me Out” and “Heartsink” which are all smothered in gritty guitars and are beefed up with solid drumming. It’s songs like these that certainly don’t reinvent the musical wheel by any stretch of the imagination, but what they lack in originally they make up for in the couple’s shared commitment to putting everything they can into making their music memorable via infectious choruses and punchy riffs (“Heartsink” being the strongest example of the trio).
“Colours Fade” is another gem that’s tucked away at the tail end of the album. At seven minutes in length, it’s a sprawling track that digresses from the pattern established by the songs that precede it. As the black sheep of the album, it’s darker, more intense and feels less restrained than some of the other tracks on the album making it one of the most satisfying listens.
Considering there are only two members in Blood Red Shoes, the band radiate with the confidence and sound of a band with twice the amount of members in their ranks. With that being said, while “Fire Like This” is not a flawless album they still prove that sometimes keeping it simple and playing with passion can have the most stunning results.
1. Don’t Ask
2. Light It Up
3. It Is Happening
4. When We Wake
5. Keeping It Close
6. Count Me Out
8. Follow The Lines
9. One More Empty Chair
10. Colours Fade