Album review: Blood Red Shoes – ‘Fire Like This’ (V2/Co-operative)

Rumours of the duo going 'soft' were just that - they're as thrillingly loud as always

It’s as superfluous as suggesting that [a]The Darkness[/a]’ [b]‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’[/b] is probably as good as any song you could drop a dart into on the back of an [a]AC/DC[/a] greatest hits collection. But, although, yes, they wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the influence of ’90s US scuzz-rockers, from Fugazi to Nirvana to Sonic Youth to Pixies, the fact remains that the peaks of [a]Blood Red Shoes[/a]’ 2008 debut album ‘Box Of Secrets’, given a quick spin in Doc Brown’s DeLorean and a transatlantic flight, could snugly park themselves into the tracklisting
of any given best-of-the-era compilation playlisted by any given bedroom Cobain-trailer.

Unashamed exponents of the hairier side of noughties rock, Steven Ansell and Laura-Mary Carter did it vastly better than most – Laura-Mary’s air-gasp vocals and brutally catchy riffs airlifting them storeys above supposed peers such as [a]Nine Black Alps[/a]. However, releasing it too late after one-off singles such as [b]‘Stitch Me Back’[/b] first gathered froth and surfing an entirely different sea to the plethora of more ‘angular’ bands, the possibility of mainstream recognition was always low. And so they remained a beloved but decidedly cult addition to UK
rock’s landscape.

Early whispers of [b]‘Fire Like This’[/b]’ direction got nerves twitching with trepidation over a possible ‘gone pop’ switch, complete, it was rumoured, with strings. It didn’t last, thankfully – the album is just as much a joyously wall-felling barrage of riffola as [b]‘Box Of Secrets’[/b]. And while there’s cello searing underneath near album-end [b]‘Follow The Lines’[/b] and closer [b]‘One More Empty Chair’[/b], considering its neighbouring songs’ gleeful guitar destruction, you get the impression the instrument used to record it is in six pieces down the bottom of a Brighton skip.

As before, [a]Blood Red Shoes[/a] are most fun when the velocity is set to skin-rippingly fast. Hence opener [b]‘Don’t Ask’[/b] and [b]‘Heartsink’[/b] – a screwy British cousin to [a]Yeah Yeah Yeahs[/a]’ [b]‘Date With The Night’[/b] – imprint most hard. On the latter, Steve leathers his cymbals with delirious angle-thrusts and improbable control, again demonstrating why he’s one of the most underrated young drummers in the country. [b]‘Colours Fade’[/b] adds another dimension, the stretched closer showing they can do deftly elongated almost as well as drum-crushingly manic.

Overall the album is a reassertion that when it comes to hard-pumping guitar’n’drums duos it’s unjust that Steve and Laura-Mary are billed below the likes of [a]The Kills[/a] on the big festival bill Sellotaped to God’s fridge. But to bemoan their fate would be like bemoaning a dollop of seagull deposit decorating your new suit as you walk out of the tailors – sometimes life just isn’t fair. For now we’ll have to be content with Blood Red Shoes quietly becoming one of the most thrillingly loud bands we’ve got – and the promising hope that there’ll be plenty more fire exactly like this from them for years to come.

[b]Jamie Fullerton[/b]

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Click here to get your copy of Blood Red Shoes’ ‘Fire Like This’ from the Rough Trade shop.