Blood Red Shoes – Blood Red Shoes

This fourth long player neatly combines facets of their first three.

Label: Jazz Life

Rating:

‘So give me everything, all of it, all at once’, comes the bratty demand from Blood Red Shoes’ Steven Ansell, sounding like he’s stuck inside an echo-chamber on opening salvo ‘Everything All At Once’. But it’s actually the Brighton pair who are giving us everything at once; their fourth long player neatly combines facets of their first three – the post-punk spiky provocation of debut ‘Box Of Secrets’, the dynamic Transatlantic alt-rock of follow-up ‘Fire Like This’, and the overly textured semi-misfire of last effort ‘In Time To Voices’: it all carries over here. Having traded in their native stomping ground in favour of Berlin to record as well as self-produce, it also seems apt that Blood Red Shoes have named this album after themselves. What might be seen as a failure of imagination in other bands, a default naming convention, is in their hands a message: we’re a confident, tight-knit unit who know who we are.

And they do being them well. ‘An Animal’ rampages with a chaotic energy, and ‘Welcome Home’, a furious, instrumental assault that could easily be a QOTSA jam session, seamlessly blends into the already mentioned ‘Everything All At Once’ – a perfect balance of Ansell’s brittle, snarky lyricism held together by Laura-Mary Carter’s taut guitar lines, completed by an earworm chorus. And speaking of perfection, ‘A Perfect Mess’ is music to the ears; bristling verses throbbing with intent, squealing guitars, distorted vocal play between Carter and Ansell, flourished with Carter’s sneering taunt: ‘… go on and disappear’. She really hits her stride on ‘Grey Smoke’ though, a dirty, sweet mid-tempo groove, which she reigns over with a rock ’n’ roll majesty. A genuinely pleasing aspect of this album is hearing Carter’s vocals dominate more than they have in the past.

However, the pace of the second half is less full-throttle and less memorable for it. While with merit (‘Stranger’, ‘Cigarettes In The Dark’), the slower moments don’t sit quite so comfortably; the band don’t do soft and languid that well yet, and as if acknowledging it, they’re often peppered with the odd intrusion of heavy-ish breakdowns – though the overthought and the sometimes painfully overwrought finesse that epitomised ‘In Time To Voices’ is dialled down here, making the record more balanced overall.

That niggling complaint aside, this is a welcome return to form and when they don’t overthink it, Blood Red Shoes are more than capable of putting the ‘rawk’ back into raucous. Welcome home, guys.