REVIEW: Blood Red Shoes – In Time To VoicesPosted: March 27, 2012
Brighton has always had a vibrant music scene, with bands like Electralane, British Sea Power and The Maccabees all hailing from the city. It’s also the site of the Great Escape Festival, which is well-known as one of the best festivals for showcasing new talent in Europe. One of the highlights of this burgeoning scene is alternative rock band Blood Red Shoes. Now onto their third full-length, the band have toured tirelessly around the world, since 2004, and developed as musicians greatly. With In Time To Voices, they’ve created their heaviest, most polished and ambitious record to date.
The band are actually a duo made up of Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to this album. While being made up of just a drummer and guitarist, the duo show the intensity and scope of a full band. Vocal duties are handled by both members, giving a healthy duality to the music. Songs are roughly sung in a fifty-fifty split, but Ansell’s voice is a little more prominent throughout. The two voices harmonise together well and interlace in a way that really shows how well they know one another, musically. On ‘Stop Kicking’ the two voices overlap one another towards the end of the song in a style similar to Brand New . Both vocalists sing with a similar pitch, which prevents dissonance and gives it all a warm chemistry.
Blood Red Shoes don’t make any compromises by being a duo. The lack of a bassist just means that they have to turn everything up louder and playing harder to cover up the bassist-shaped void. And play hard, they do. A similar approach was taken by a little band you might have heard of called The White Stripes, and it worked out pretty well for them. Extra instrumentation is used sparingly on the record, and when it is it doesn’t alienate the sound their sound.
In Time To Voices strikes a ideal balance between heavy, punk-influenced anthems and slower, more poignant moments. A prime example of their heaviest side is one-and-a-half minute belter ‘Je Me Perds‘, in which the band embark on a raw and frenzied shout-a-thon, with lyrics like “What the fuck am I doing here / lying face down on the floor“. If the whole album was filled with songs of this nature, it would get old very quickly but this fleeting moment of madness is enough to let us see the bands’ true ferocity shine brightly. In stark contrast, the track prior to it, ‘Night Light‘ is a more laid-back, sullen affair, filled with slow-paced vocals, acoustic guitars and even some simple piano melodies. The way the band embrace these two dynamics gives the record a cohesive and varied vibe, and just makes for a more exciting listen.
The album opens with title track ‘In Time To Voices‘ which highlights Carter’s vocal prowess. It’s a slow-building piece that builds up gradually to a triumphant finish complete with an impressive distortion-filled guitar solo. Lead single ‘Cold‘ is introduced by an intricate drum pattern and a fuzz-filled riff. Carter‘s vocals are at their most bold on this track, and they really carry the intro in an interesting direction, before Ansell‘s harsher tones take hold of the chorus. The track is both dense and complex while being catchy at the same time, and it really draws attention to how good the band strike that balance I keep going on about. ‘The Silence And The Drones‘ has a heroic vibe to it, with violin swoops that accentuate Ansell’s haunting sentiments (“Let me please forget“). It’s a definite highlight of the album and, again, illustrates the expanded vision of the band; these record feels bigger than any of their previous work and they know it. Almost-five-minute album closer ‘7 Years‘ has a Death Cab For Cutie-like sense of sincerity, before it fades away into the distance.
If Blood Red Shoes’ previous records didn’t quite get their hooks in you, this one definitely should. In Time To Voices is a more mature and diverse piece of work and seems like what the band have been working towards all this time. In an interview prior to the album’s release, Carter said “With this album we totally threw out the rulebook of how we write and record. We decided we wanted to make a really ambitious record.” Well, they certainly did that.