Album review: Blood Red Shoes – Get Tragic

Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell of Blood Red Shoes.

Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell of Blood Red Shoes. - Credit: Archant

Seismic life events trigger new sonic adventures for this troubadour duo, with some exciting, propulsive results.

Get Tragic is the group's fifth album.

Get Tragic is the group's fifth album. - Credit: Archant

At the end of 2014, when Brighton-based singer-guitarist Laura-Mary Carter and drummer Steven Ansell finished touring their self-titled, self-produced record, the band almost imploded. The weight of nearly a decade of incessant touring and recording, living in each other’s pockets, had taken its toll.

Carter bought a one-way ticket to LA, where she joined a songwriters’ club and pitched to the likes of Rihanna, while Ansell went on a six-month drugs’n’clubs binge in Blighty.

The title is an ironic nod to the absurd cliché they fell into, served with the sense of humour that’s helped keep them together – just as well, as making this record saw them hounded out of writing retreats, go through numerous managers, and deal with Carter’s broken arm – and heart.

Like the promo artwork and cover image, Get Tragic cuts the chiselled, uncompromising heft of these seasoned rockers’ previous work with vibrant, strong and silken synths.

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More melodic and nuanced than any of its predecessors, their fifth record heralds a new direction nurtured by feted producer Nick Launay (Arcade Fire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds), paying dividends with fresh injections of synths and keyboards that Carter had picked up while her plaster cast prevented her playing guitar.

The record opens with the dark, prowling guitar-and-synth pop of Eye To Eye, their hugely enjoyable first single with flashes of classic Garbage, released way back in April 2017.

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The louche, achingly cool Nearer sprinkles Portishead-esque vocals over moody, electro-buzzsaw guitar and Ansell takes the mic to reveal a more contemplative, but not entirely convincing, flipside over looped percussion and strummed acoustic guitar in Find My Own Remorse.

The band’s broader sonic appetite is a welcome move overall though, pointing to a funkier, groovier future with plenty of punch and some pop nous to boot.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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