Review Summary: An impressive debut from the Brighton duo that hints at further potential for the future.
Having peaked in popularity around mid-decade, indie music in the UK has ran out of steam somewhat in recent years, with recognised names delving into mediocrity and newer faces showing little in the way of genuine talent or potential. Yet although the Strokes-led garage rock revival that they would have been greatly suited to has long since past, Brighton duo Blood Red Shoes could well be the catalyst needed to re-boot an increasingly stagnant scene. The pair, Laura Mary Carter and Steven Ansell, formed in 2005, releasing a string of well-received singles, but it wasn’t until three years later that their debut album dropped. For their small but strong fanbase, however, it was well worth the wait, for the record successfully captured everything that had deservedly gained the pair a 'ones to watch' tag.
Box Of Secrets’
greatest, and possibly most obvious strength is the sheer amount of energy concealed within the albums eleven tracks. This sources from both band members, as they each put in a consistently impressive and passionate performance, creating an engaging racket in the process. Carter’s guitar playing, though relatively simple is brilliantly effective, and it’s her catchy riffs and vocal parts that provide the hooks which play a vital part in much of the albums success. Producer Mike Crossey clearly saw her strengths too, as his raw mix sees the guitar parts in particular excel, with a heavy and fuzz drenched tone dominating proceedings.
It’s Ansell’s drumming, however, that is the driving force behind the entire album, and arguably its strongest feature. From start to finish, he batters the life out of his kit, and in doing so adds muscle, intensity and the all important energy that is a vital ingredient in every song. His strengths are laid bare right from the off, with opener and early highlight Doesn’t Matter Much
instantly displaying the duo at their electric best. Ansell pounds his drums to pulp, Carters guitar buzzes with the same purpose and heaviness as Mudhoney at their fuzzy peak, and the enthusiastic duel vocal performance works to near-perfection, especially in the simple but wonderfully effective chorus.
These characteristics are present in just about every song on offer in an impressively consistent release. Highlights are hard to single out, but Try Harder
and This Is Not For You
have a similarly grungy feel to the opener, and are all the better for it, while other enjoyable tracks such as You Bring Me Down
and excellent single Say Something, Say Anything
bend more towards UK indie, being more reminiscent of the Arctic Monkeys than Nirvana. Undoubtedly the albums high point, however, is I Wish I Was Someone Better
, a terrific blast of fuzz-tinged punk that bumps all the duos strengths up a couple of notches. Ansell’s drumming in particular reaches an outstanding peak here, especially during the songs thrilling and powerful climax.
In truth, Box Of Secrets’
only major flaw is the definite lack of variety throughout. This isn’t to say that ever song here sounds the same, but other than their previously mentioned grunge and indie sides the duo show no other style or tempo that could have enhanced the record further. Despite this drawback, however, even the lesser moments such as ADHD
and Hope You’re Holding Up
fare pretty well in the context of the record, as well as being perfectly adequate as stand alone songs. Indeed, it’s testament to the strength of the bands sound that the album remains interesting throughout its 41 minute duration, despite the said lack of variation.
Despite the excellence of this debut, however, there is still a lot of potential from the pair that is yet to be fulfilled. This is not a weakness of this particular record, but a sign of great promise for their upcoming releases. It might take a few more albums yet, but if they work on improving their sonwriting, instrumental skill and add a little more variety to future works, Blood Red Shoes could well play a role in reigniting an indie scene in dire need of a spark.
I Wish I Was Someone Better
It's Getting Boring By The Sea
Doesn't Matter Much
Take The Weight
Say Something, Say Anything