It's been five years since Brighton duo Blood Red Shoes released an album. A relaxing break? Time off to start families? Not this band. Ten years touring, only breaking to record, resulted in a bitter fall out. Laura Mary-Carter jetted off to the states to write pop songs for the likes of Rihanna, meanwhile, Steve Ansell went on a massive bender.
After reconciliation, they bonded over how laughable their lives became in the interim period. This forms bedrock of the lyrics on 'Get Tragic'. However, what they hadn't counted on, was the endless run of bad luck. Break ups, broken bones and evangelical villagers (yes, you are reading that correct) caused further delay. 'Get Tragic' is very much a tale of, what goes down, must go up again.
Carter's broken arm led her to play more keys and synths than ever before. Whilst many bands five albums in labour to a new sound, Blood Red Shoes organically moved towards theirs throng necessity.
On 'Nearer', the big riffs have been swapped for an offbeat solos and thudding synth hooks which create a Dubstep-esque sense of dread. In years gone by, Carter's vocals were synonymous with punk and post-punk. Now, there is a devilment permeating her delivery. Now we understand how Luther feels when Alice turns up!
This new approach has given them more grooves than ever before too. 'Beverley' is a dark and twisted take on Blondie. On 'Howl', the albums stand-out, everything has been thrown into the mix. Carter's vocal is comfortably the best hook of her career. Meanwhile, the melodic sexiness of Goldfrapp unfurls into a distorted glam rock fury. It's furious crescendo is a glorious sonic scream into the abyss.
For any old school fans, the old riotous instincts still prevail. 'Mexican Dress' and 'Anxiety' have the hallmarks of 'It's Getting Boring By Sea' and 'I Wish I Was Someone Better'. The aggression remains on 'Mexican Dress', an almost BRMC dirty rock n roll affair. The filthy display of riffs and synths conjures a tension and isolation that is not for the fragile of mind.
It may have been a personally tumultuous time for the band but, boy has it paid off. So many bands this far into their careers alienate their base when they start taking risks. Blood Red Shoes have produced the blueprint on how to do it.
*Image Courtesy of Sonic PR