Overall Score: 8.5/10 Originality: 9/10 Songs: 7/10 Vocals: 9/10 Pros: Impressive Vocals | Enjoyable Originality Cons: Occasionally lose the balance between styles
There’s not much that matches the feeling of discovering a new favourite song. Especially if it’s from a band or artist that you haven’t heard before. It’s a kind of swept off your feet, love at first sight kind of feeling. The kind of feeling normally reserved for Mr Darcy or the lead in a Richard Curtis movie.
All of the above happened to me when I heard Mexican Dress from Blood Red Shoes. The track has this instant spark, and within 15 seconds I was in. In that moment nothing else in the world mattered. The stomping chorus, the swirling, fuzzy guitar work and the sharp and incisive vocal from Laura-Mary Carter pulled me in. It was love at first sight, and after that first night of passion, there’s no way that you aren’t going to be going back for more.
The problem is that, of course, that second date can be seriously nerve wracking. Was last time a one off? Was it the four double gins I had before we met up that made the difference? Was that tune as good as it gets? Mercifully, the answer is no. Get Tragic is a record that delivers on so many levels, and is, slight wobble in the middle apart, everything that I wanted it to be.
Proceedings get underway with the hypnotic Eye To Eye. The track’s only crime is that it’s title reminds me of the Kajagoogoo song To Shy. Which in case you’re unfamiliar is the most 80’s piece of music that has ever been recorded. Up next is the aforementioned musical mastery that is Mexican Dress. I’ve waxed lyrical about it enough already but I’m going on record to say that you’ll struggle to hear a better tune all year.
Bangsar sees drummer Steven Ansell take over lead vocal duties, but it’s pulsating twisted distortion ensures that the album’s strong start continues. At the risk of being blunt and sounding like a drunken middle-aged guy in your town’s worst night spot, the track is a banger. However, I never said that Get Tragic was the most straightforward of listens and Nearer (Feat The Wytches) provides the first stylistic twist. The pace slows and the electronica tinged part of the band’s sound takes over. The track is strangely mesmeric, and the broody fuzziness completely captivating.
The problem is that when the duo moves even further into this strange electronic soundscape as they do on Beverly (Feat Ed Harcourt) and Find My Own Remorse (Feat Clarence Clarity) they lose their way a little bit. The tempo slows to a crawl and the sharp crispness of the earlier tracks disappears as things take a detour. The album feels like it loses focus and it suffers as a result.
That being said, I did say this was only a slight wobble, and Blood Red Shoes soon return to form with Howl. Everything here is lighter and substantially more fleet of foot, and just like that, everything is back on track. And not just back on track, as the closing trifecta of Anxiety, Vertigo and Elijah ensures a spectacularly strong finish. Anxiety is not only the brilliant lost love child of a previously unknown Royal Blood and Artic Monkeys tryst, but lyrically it manages to sum up exactly what anxiety is in one brilliantly simple line; “I could take a chance, but it terrifies me.” Ever wondered what anxiety is? That’s it right there.
Vertigo and Elijah really see the riffs return in full force and this is where for my money the band are at their peak. At their best, the talented duo walk a tightrope between indie, rock and electronica and when they stay on that tightrope that’s exactly when they produce their best work. It’s only when they lose that balance that the album really dips, but it is only the briefest of dips.
Get Tragic will probably take a couple of listens to properly resonate but your patience will be rewarded. After all, when the band are good, they are stunningly good. To finish on my now utterly tortured metaphor from earlier, when the good times outnumber the bad you know that the relationship is a keeper. Blood Red Shoes’ Get Tragic is undoubtedly a keeper.