Thursday, May 9, 2019

Album Review: Blood Red Shoes - Get Tragic

Blood Red Shoes
Get Tragic
***and1/2 out of *****

The fifth album from guitarist Laura-Mary Carter and drummer Steven Ansell, the English duo known as Blood Red Shoes, finds them giving their band a fresh start as the band was put on hiatus with Carter heading to LA after 2014's self titled. Get Tragic shifts their sound, pumping up the electro jams with brooding electronic keyboards, bass heavy pop rock perfect for late night dance floors or hip dark smokey laser light lit club scenes on movie soundtracks. 

The first noticeable adjustment is the increased the work load of keyboards, moving away from garage rock roots into a more dance laden fully bloated dark rock sound. The pulsating electro bass dominates the record opener "Eye To Eye" setting the stage before the first single "Mexican Dress" takes over. An album highlight the lyrics call to mind a vapid generation doing things for the clicks which Carter describes as "small hits of validation and the feeling of having all eyes on you have become our generation’s biggest drug problem!”.

Musically the track delivers different driving drums and percussion with repetitive riffs and swirling keyboard sounds/effects melding into a dance ready groove. That dirty rock groove gets an industrial injection on the clanging "Bangsar" and the experimental "Anxeity" both which find Ansell on lead vocal duty, but it is the singing on "Howl" from Carter which dominates. On a majority of the offerings her vocals remain more spoken word and aloof , but "Howl" finds Carter in strong form and everything clicking with disenchanted samples, electronic keyboard lines, crunchy riffs and driving drums; aside from a bizarre abrupt ending it is a standout number.

The whole record keeps the motif industrial pop rock dance party flowing though even when guests arrive like Ed Harcourt on the Depeche Mode influenced "Beverly" or The Wytches for the "Hold Me, Thirll Me Kiss Me Kill Me" inspired "Nearer" which juxtaposes sludgy electronic bass with shimmering big breaks in massive over driven style.

Producer Nick Launay (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) also deserves credit for stringing these sounds together so successfully. The one song which breaks this style and doesn't work is the odd off kilter folk of "Find My Own Remorse" which has Clarence Clarity assisting, but the shift in album ascetic is a strange stylistic choice.   

Album closer however "Elijah" pulls things back into the underground chic framework with a huge cinematic riffs and rising crescendo, tailor made to close out festival sets as splashes of recent Jack White efforts ("Connected By Love") flow through it. Wrapping up on a high note Get Tragic finds Carter and Ansell in strong form, increasing their electronic output, and also stridently moving Blood Red Shoes forward in overloaded fashion.
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