Album Review: Blood Red Shoes

in time to voices (v2 records)

Brighton duo, Blood Red Shoes, are back with their latest 'coming of age' record. Building on their punk rock roots, their third release, In Time To Voices encapsulates heavy rock and raucous riffs, as well as sensitive, sweeping melodies and soundscapes.

Another girl/boy duo in the Pop-Rock scene, Steven Ansell and Laura-Mary Carter came together in late 2004 upon the demise of their previous bands, and having been around for over half a decade, their ambitious and impressive new sound is taking them in a new (and rather attractive) direction. In Time To Voices features elements to please even the most harshest of critics; heavy Black Sabbath and Zeppelin influences, anthemic song-writing and the attitude and thrashy energy of everything that was good about Punk.

Teaming up with co-producer and long-time friend Mike Crossey, the record opens with the title track; a mysterious song with Carter's delicate, breathy vocals over a backdrop that slowly shifts to more dynamic, snare-heavy percussion and frantically-strummed guitar, while Carter's voice remains eloquent. This is the more ambitious direction the band have recently spoken about - a far cry from the punk edge in the beginnings of their career. So far, however, the duo seemed to have found their space musically, benefitting from Crossey's shiny production and polished instrumental parts with detailed definition in each track.

One negative about their new, glossier production is the commercial aspect to the record. Written with specific singles in mind (In Time To Voices, Cold) it all but undermines their previous Punk values of writing an album to be listened to in full. However, there are redeeming points on the album where they go back to their roots (and passion) and thrash out the 90 second Je Me Perds. A track about Ansell being the unfortunate victim of a mugging by two prostitutes in Prague, they project a brutal energy fuelled by distortion, not only with the guitar but the vocals too, a real relic of past era's. They let it all go! All the re-focus and restraint found in the rest of the album goes out the window, and it's brilliant. Although this record shows their maturity, it's reassuring to know they still take pleasure in their early influences (Sonic Youth, Minor Threat, Melissa Auf Der Mer) and showcase the distorted Garage-Rock they made their name with.

Two Dead Minutes is 3:41 of foreboding precision percussion, gentle harmonies and backing vocal conjuring up a distinct other-worldly sound, before pounding drums burst into play and swirling, powerful guitars take hold. 7 Years, is 'the slow one' on the album, deploying their tension-building tactics to the extreme. Slip into Blue is a track that, for me, is reminiscent of grunge band, Hole; a relaxed guitar strum, with dark lyrics and sinister tones, but more melodic than the moans of Courtney Love's vocals.

Although In Time To Voices is Blood Red Shoes' venture into a new environment, the record remains along a vein of familiarity with elements extracted from their previous releases. The continuation of filthily distorted guitars and the rawness of the drumming has not been lost, but refined. Where needed, segments have acquired squeaky-clean touch-ups and overhauls, whilst others have been allowed to let loose and wallow in the muddiness.