Blood Red Shoes have always been something of a conflicted band. Over the course of their 2008 debut Box Of Secrets and 2010’s follow up Fire Like This the duo of guitarist Laura-Mary Carter and drummer Steven Ansell have appeared torn between the desire to make heavy and uncompromising rock and their inherent ability to write hook filled pop melodies. Third album In Time To Voices sees them abandoning such conflicts and delivering their most focused and developed set of songs yet, while clearly progressing and evolving their sound.
The Brighton based duo have stated that they intended to make this album their most ambitious record and it is immediately clear that on In Time To Voices they are working from a far broader musical palette. The opening title track has a nervy, icy pulse uncommon with their earlier work with Laura Mary Carter’s voice floatingly wispily over the top; it is a taut, strident sound that exemplifies the groups more musically dextrous developments. Cold is the albums lead single and it is perhaps the most striking track here. In Time To Voices is the first Blood Red Shoes album to really have a sense of the dance floor and Cold’s off beat, almost hip hop style groove gives it a thrilling rhythmic dynamic. Ansell’s gloriously inventive drums combine with Carter’s crunching guitar riff to perfect effect and, coupled with a growled chorus; it makes for a truly powerful single. A perfect mix of a heavy sound and a sexy danceable groove.
Blood Red Shoes appear to have moved their sound forward by stripping things back. Excesses are eschewed completely on an album free of any stodge. The songwriting as a result is much more lucid and focused and Silence And The Drones and the appositely named lullaby like Night Light are excellent pieces of melodic rock. The duo have finally grasped and worked out the perfect balance between quiet and loud. There are, however, welcome blasts of their old punk rock aggression namely on the 90-second punk thrash Je Me Perds.
The album was co-produced by the duo and Mike Crossey and sonically it is certainly their most accomplished album. Each defined instrument and sound is clear and direct and their ambition shines through throughout. Stop Kicking is surely a candidate for a future single and is probably the albums best melody, treading just on the right line of anthemic rock it is a lovely piece of yearning guitar pop.
Down Here In The Dark is a perfect companion piece to Cold and it is another track that shows the duo’s development. Again taking its cues from a hip hop beat it is carried along on some gloriously detached and insouciant Oh, Oh, Oh, Ohs. It is another track that swings rather than rocks and the heaviness of the guitars complements its grinding beat. A real step forward.
The album ends with the hypnotic new-wavey 7 Years, and it is a track that you could not imagine the duo making previously. A wonderful lightness prevails here and it is a widescreen sweeping sound that suits them. There is no need to embellish the song with extra crunching guitars; they are instead content to let the melodies seep through. An approach which has served them very well throughout a record that frequently surprises and enthrals.
It is always refreshing when a band show a real desire to progress and attempt to do something a little different. Blood Red Shoes have shown that they are more than a rock band with a few good pop melodies, and have developed into a band of real ambition and invention. In Time To Voices is an extremely impressive and clever modern rock record.