Ever since the release of their ‘Water’ EP in 2013, Blood Red Shoes are sounding meaner and nastier than ever. But will their fourth album redefine what we think of as ‘Blood Red Shoes’? Gather round as we dissect the album, track-by-track.
As this track personally welcomes us into the great unknown, it simultaneously acts as a welcome home to Blood Red Shoes who return to form meaner and angrier than ever. With this (their fourth) album being self-titled, it looks as though Blood Red Shoes set to redefine themselves as the gruesome two-some if this track is any indicator of what’s to come. With this instrumental onslaught fully underway, you are not prepared.
Everything All At Once
In flurry of fuzz-guitar, Steven Ansell leads the way in what will immediately quell any fears that Blood Red Shoes have somehow become possessed by Wet Nuns. With its thumping rhythm section and melodic chorus, ‘Everything All At Once’ is extremely reminiscent of the band we fell in love with back in 2008.
Yet, in almost complete contrast, cue the unashamedly brutal bluesy riffs of ‘An Animal’ — a rampant track which exhibits the Blood Red Shoes we’ve come to fall in love with all over again since their ‘Water EP’. Their trademark harmonious vocals… that unnerving calm before the storm. Ansell’s frantic confessions as the track meets its demise. It’s a cold and wholly calculated assault on the senses. It’s Blood Red Shoes 2.0.
Opening with a seductive riff that wouldn’t be particularly out of place on the ever-slick Arctic Monkeys‘ album ‘AM’, ‘Grey Smoke’ possesses an admirable air of arrogance. Laura-Mary Carter delivers some of her finest hypnotic vocals to date as this track builds to a crescendo that makes you feel down-right dirty. Pass me the loofa.
Immediately reminiscent of the atmospheric and haunting third album ‘In Time To Voices’, ‘Far Away’ adds yet another contrasting dimension to this album. Given the tracks that we’ve heard prior to album release (‘An Animal’, ‘The Perfect Mess’, ‘Wretch’), perhaps Blood Red Shoes haven’t become as mean as we first thought?
The Perfect Mess
And just like that, Blood Red Shoes pull a complete u-turn with the instantly arresting riffs of ‘The Perfect Mess’. The growling guitar acts as a complimentary backing for the warbling lead in the chorus whilst trademark synchronised vocals seal the deal. Oh yeah, and the outro is pretty brutal.
Behind A Wall
After double-checking that I was in fact listening to this album in the correct order, ‘Behind A Wall’ possesses a distinct sixties psychedelic vibe, yet hides behind a fuzz-guitar that says otherwise. It straddles the heavier side of Blood Red Shoes yet without the conviction or angst of previous tracks.
Here’s where I begin to realise that my perceptions of this album were completely off. Faithfully chiming along with a memorably lively rhythm section from Ansell, ‘Stranger’ undoubtedly harks back to Blood Red Shoes’ moodier third album. It’s one of the first tracks where guitar takes a thorough backseat and the duo’s vocals truly shine.
A gratifyingly heavy headbanger erupts as Blood Red Shoes recite ‘I can’t get the words out‘ in repeated frustration. A wave of pure fuzz progressively swells before it inevitably engulfs you whole. It’s an anthem for the oppressed.
Don’t Get Caught
With a melody that Josh Homme would proudly adopt into his own twisted back catalogue, ‘Don’t Get Caught’ is undoubtedly one of the darkest tracks on ‘Blood Red Shoes’. Carter’s backing vocals in the chorus gives this track a spine-tingling, haunting quality.
Cigarettes In The Dark
Carter’s voice begins unaccompanied as a pulsating riff faintly echoes in the background. This track sees Blood Red Shoes leave the riffs at home as the song gradually intensifies; shortly thereafter, a remorseless fuzz-fest interlude leads ‘Cigarettes In The Dark’ to its inevitable demise. In an album of strong competition, it’s not one of the more memorable journeys.
With a rare piano cameo, Ansell takes the spotlight before a grungy chorus sees the pair unite for this album’s moody sendoff. As Ansell’s thundering toms and Carter’s overdriven guitar form the centerpiece of ‘Tightwire’, it seems somewhat short-lived as ‘Tightwire’ abruptly calls it a day.
Overall, ‘Blood Red Shoes’ is a solid album, yet if you came here purely for face-melting riffs, you may be left a little disappointed. It’s hard not to feel like this album runs out of steam a little towards the end, but the variety of tracks strengthen to form a brooding, cohesive journey. Fortunately, there’s a lot of the angst and grit of ‘In Time To Voices’ still lingering, contributing an unmistakable depth in the wake of destructively heavy riffs.
Perhaps it’s not the reinvention and redefinition of Blood Red Shoes which we dreamed of, but ‘Blood Red Shoes’ is undoubtedly an album of two complimentary facades; the mean and the moody. We’ve always loved the heavier, reckless side to this band (especially in live performances) and it’s so gratifying to see them embrace it with this album… however, it’s more gritty than gruesome as a whole. 8/10