Blood Red Shoes

Fire Like This

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Guitarist Laura-Mary Carter and drummer Steven Ansell return with their second album of stripped-down power punk, refining the thick, guitar-heavy sound of their debut. Once again they have the help of producer Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, Razorlight), who helps them sculpt their raw sound into a force that's both more primitive and more polished than their debut, no mean feat. Blood Red Shoes have jettisoned most of the dance beats they used on Box of Secrets, with Carter's guitar turning out grinding, industrial textures that complement the band's tales of moral and societal decay and Ansell's drums still driving the machine forward with his stripped-down rhythms and cymbal crashes that are processed and mixed to blend into the overtones of Carter's guitar. The set was recorded live in the studio to analog tape to preserve the duo's crude, rude wall of noise. Carter's big distorted guitar drives the punky opener, "Don't Ask," while adding skewed single-note runs to add tension and excitement. "Light It Up" sounds a bit like AC/DC doing T. Rex, with a stomping '70s-style chorus. "Heartsink" portrays the plummeting frustration of a pointless relationship, with Carter's swooping guitar moving in for the kill and filling the track with distorted overtones that blend into Ansell's cymbal-bashing frenzy. "Follow the Lines" is a poignant song about dancing alone in your room at twilight. It briefly revisits the disco with Ansell's stomping funky backbeat and Carter laying down a New Order-like bassline on the low strings of her guitar while singing in a high, vulnerable tone. The climax comes with "Colors Fade," a seven-minute opus about a relationship that's falling apart, propelled by Ansell's stomping 4/4 snare, Carter's grinding guitar that morphs from punk to surf to industrial, and a surprisingly catchy vocal refrain.

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