Blood Red Shoes - Fire Like This

by Rich Morris Rating:6 Release Date:2010-07-19

Recorded on analogue equipment with a minimum of overdubs, Blood Red Shoes' second long-player takes a step back away from the sometimes anodyne indie rock sound of their 2008 debut. The result is harder and starker, closer in feel to the output of perennial alt-rock outsider Steve Albini, who BRS' Steven Ansell has cited as an inspiration.

However, that's not to say Fire Like This doesn't tick the indie rock boxes. Simply put together it may be, but this is still a punchy and commercial effort. Songs like 'It's Happening Again' and, in particular, 'Light It Up' come with huge, anthemic choruses which are tailor made for XFM playlists. 'Heartsink', meanwhile, would have no trouble setting the dance floor of your common or garden indie disco alight. If that makes the Brighton two-piece sound calculated, well, that wouldn't be a totally fair assessment. Unlike many of their peers, BRS have resisted any urge they may have had (or pressure they may have felt from an outside source) to go down the dance/electro-pop route. Instead, this is something of an indie rock purist's record. The guitars on 'When We Wake' and 'Keeping It Close' are thick and bludgeoning, shooting out riffs with no fuss or sonic trickery.

The downside of this is that Fire Like This feels a little one-note. The emotionally-charged setting is perpetually angsty, the music's dynamic most often stormy. Things liven up when BRS hit on a great chorus or melody, as they do on 'Light It Up' and 'Keeping It Close'. Whenever Laura-Mary Carter's vocals take over from Ansell things improve, since her voice explores a wider breadth of emotion, bringing desperation and heartache into the mix on songs like 'Count Me Out', rather than merely the twitchy irritability that Ansell deals in. 'Follow the Lines', featuring weeping strings, even allows a little lightness-of-touch into their flinty sound. It suits them.

Overall, it's a shame that, having reigned themselves in admirably, BRS haven't been able to come up with a more interesting record. Fire Like This gets its job done effectively but at times feels more like a product than the artistic statement you sense BRS want it to be.

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