The White Stripes split up. The Black Keys hit their success into the stratosphere. Death From Above 1979 reform. It’s all go in the world of the rock ‘n’ roll guitar/drum garage duos. So it looks set to continue with us Brits getting in our foot (feet?) in on the hullaballo.
Formed in 2004 it’s been a long time coming for Blood Red Shoes to stake their claim as ‘go to duo’, but with The White Stripes stricken from the record, The Black Keys success at an all time high because of the aforementioned split and their constant mining of the garage blues well, DFA 1979 as unpredictable as ever and this reunion likely to be short lived; what better time than now?
2012 (specifically March 26th) sees the release of their third studio album, their strongest album yet and their best shot at the big leagues. Always strict to a relentless touring schedule their previous efforts have seen the band receive some pretty solid critical acclaim and cult status as with each album capturing their live intensity. However with In Time To Voices the band have admitted themselves that they aren’t letting the constraints of a live performance and being a duo get in the way of the songs they can write and the soundscapes they can imagine, and it shows. Almost immediately.
The title track opener sets the scene perfectly with its cinematic atmosphere playing under Laura-Mary Carter’s ghost like drawl, as it slowly builds for the arrival of Steven Ansell’s full on assault of his kit and joining in on vocal duties. It shows just how ambitious the pair have been with experimenting with their sound and production to make this record a record and not just their live show captured.
Always known for their dabbling in muscular yet angular post-punk/dance-punk/whatever rhythms and riffs, this album sees the duo expand upon this, adding in melancholic atmospheres and citing classic song writing influences such as Black Sabbath, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, as well the loud quiet dynamics of The Pixies and the driving riffs of Queens of the Stone Age.
Despite what those influences portray, this is no nostalgia-fest, this is a very modern body of work, taking those influences and more, funnelling them through the pair’s indie sensibilities and chemistry then once channelled letting them come to life in the studio. Lead single Cold pulsates and stomps with a rockstar’s sex drive and swagger, emotive and catchy but driven and weighty. Leading you to believe these Blood Red Shoes are a killer pair of heels propping up the end of the bar and giving you the eye.
Two Dead Minutes sees the band almost electronic in its drone like layers and steady beat playing around with effects and atmospheres. Before it builds to the kind of treated and orchestrated feedback that brings to mind Loveless by My Bloody Valentine, a feeling that’s more than welcome in its colouring of the albums production throughout. Especially on tracks like Silence And The Drones and the outro to closer 7 years.
It’s not all waves of distortion and shoegazing though, these two still like to kick out the jams. Most notably Je Me Perds with its fuzzy intensity and distorted wails in place of vocals coming across like Death From Above 1979 either scrapping or fucking Boris at their most stoner punk. Stop Kicking’s main riff brings to mind Wake Up by Arcade Fire and Down Here In The Dark struts with enough low end to sit well soundtracking the sleaziest but sexiest strip club. Steven Ansell channelling the spirit of Josh Homme in his vocal performance.
Night Light though is the real mould breaker. Starting out as an almost moody country song, it broods and woos over you as it gradually builds its layers whilst focusing on that melancholic acoustic atmosphere. The album’s centrepiece whilst running order wise sticking true to that.
Whilst in the wake of The White Stripes most have dived to The Black Keys, where they should have delved deeper with is Blood Red Shoes; a duo that aren’t just churning out the typical garage rock blues duo we’ve all heard before. What we have instead here a twosome who sport their pairship proud and are as garage as the next lot, but mix andmatch influences under their own sound that results in something pretty modern and unique instead of something you’ve heard a million times before. Meaning what you get is something modern, something unique and a huge sounding two piece.