Friday, May 25, 2012

Always In Time For Blood Red Shoes

Although the album is already out in the U.K., plenty of people are still anticipating In Time To Voices by Blood Red Shoes. The follow-up album to their subversive Fire Like This is the most ambitious work ever produced by the duo from Brighton, England.

While more polished than previous installments, In Time To Voices doesn't even hint that the couple are careless enough to abandon their underground punk and rook roots. Their first single released in the U.S. proves it well enough.

Cold, which was released in advance of the album, is as fiery and erratic as ever. Steven Ansell (drums/vocals) and Laura-Mary Carter (guitar/vocals) carry a bigger sound with the single, each taking turns to deliver equal parts to the tenuous push and pull between two souls. It hits home in alluding to the idea that love isn't something you need to fight for. You either fall into it or fall out of it.

In Time To Voices smolders back and forth between rough and tender.

The album is much more carefully thought out, with some tracks carving out a softness that isn't necessarily characteristic for the band that sounds best when they belt it out. The decision to bring in a mix like this clearly shows a maturity over the last eight years.

Just don't become too comfortable. Je Me Perds packs in punk in under 90 seconds. The standout track angrily powers up the angriest side of Ansell as he pummels the drums and Carter screams out her verses. It's brilliantly ballsy, breaking away from anything else on the album.

Je Me Perds and Cold are both in the same category. Download them while they are available because not all Blood Red Shoes albums stay up indefinitely in U.S. stores. Following is a live session of Cold, which comes across with a little less power than the official video but with more personality.

Lost Kids may not be as sharp, but is decidedly provocative in its prose. Both Ansell and Carter emote the frustration and disillusionment felt by youth who don't know what to do with themselves. As the song declares, they feel buried anyway.

The title track, In Time To Voices, is thoughtfully composed, starting as a delicate ballad that sneaks up on its powered-up chorus more than 90 seconds into the song. At the same time, it showcases Carter's amazingly controlled vocals. The fact she can hit her notes so effortlessly while fiercely working the guitar and stomping pedals is something that has to be seen to be believed.

The tenderness comes into play on tracks like the broody but hard-handed Night Light, the dreamy atmospheric track Two Dead Minutes with a big finish, and contemplative contrasts that decorate 7 Years (in between some blistering jams and haunting distorts). The balance of the album, from the must-have Stop Kicking to deep bass lines of Down Here In The Dark, makes In Time To Voices a delicate display of contrasts between Ansell and Carter and the full weight of their indie rock stylings.

Even when you think some songs might stay confined to something more expectant of alt pop, one or both of them break into something more powerful. Slow, fast, in between; it doesn't really matter. The weight of the sticks and the power on the strings busts up any notion that Blood Red Shoes are soft, even when the lyrics or instruments take a few licks at tenderness.

This band continues to be unafraid of whatever they want to tackle. It's painfully obvious that the last two more years of guitar riffs, drum smacks, and switch-hit vocals have only made them better.

In Time To Voices By Blood Red Shoes Bleeds 8.9 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

While their sophomore outing can easily be called their breakout album, In Time For Voices proves that they have no intention of squandering their talent in order to appeal to the mainstream. Likewise, as creatively fierce as Ansell and Carter can sometimes be with each other, it's always great to know they make up in time to craft some memorable music.

In Time To Voices is available on iTunes. Like many of their other albums, Amazon does have In Time To Voices is available as an import. Blood Red Shoes is currently touring Europe this summer with plans to return to the U.K. in August.
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