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Blood Red Shoes - Ghosts On Tape (Album Review)

Tuesday, 18 January 2022 Written by Emma Wilkes

On their sixth album, Blood Red Shoes are out to seduce. Shedding their skin, they’ve concocted a dark, twisted electro-rock drama of a record, inspired by the worlds of true crime and murder podcasts.

While this is an interesting concept, and the desire to create something absolutely massive is crystal clear, ‘Ghosts On Tape’ is far from flawless. It’s an album that would turn up to a first date wearing a leather catsuit—the effort is appreciated, it’s a little forced and sexy in a way that doesn’t suit the occasion. 

Sonically, Blood Red Shoes marry the grungy guitars of Royal Blood with the fizzing, space-age electronics of Muse. They do produce some satisfying results in this vein, particularly Murder Me, which grooves amid a silvery soundscape of metallic cymbal hits and downtuned guitar buzz. 

However, the rest of the record lacks a sense of innovation, and indeed, individuality. This does not feel like a record that only Blood Red Shoes could make. That’s why the more abrasive Give Up, which boasts the sort of ragged spirit that could be expected from an Idles track, feels so welcome. 

It’s refreshing, even as it draws attention to the fact that ‘Ghosts On Tape’ slick to a fault. The record frequently suffers from a feeling of artificiality thanks to some excessive fiddling behind the desk that often drowns out the overwrought vocals of Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell to jarring effect.  

‘Ghosts On Tape’ also has its fair share of lyrical shortcomings. The central hook of the strutting, Royal Blood-meets-Arctic Monkeys inspired Sucker is an eye-rolling cliché: “I’m a sucker for your love.” Too often, the concept doesn’t quite shine through enough, or it is masked in glamorised poetry about being watched or haunted. 

The fear of being in such a moment is draped in a veil of sexiness that suits the sound but doesn’t fit the objective. A special mention goes to Comply, which discusses kidnap, but the refrain of “I will not comply” is uncomfortable for all the wrong reasons. 

‘Ghosts On Tape’ is perfectly listenable, and the Brighton duo have a knack for making radio-ready music with nicely engineered hooks. However, it is neither the statement of individualism nor the high-octane concept record it believes itself to be.

Blood Red Shoes Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue January 18 2022 - BRISTOL THE FLEECE
Wed January 19 2022 - NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms
Thu January 20 2022 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute2
Fri January 21 2022 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Sat January 22 2022 - MANCHESTER Manchester Academy 3
Mon January 24 2022 - GLASGOW King Tuts
Tue January 25 2022 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE St Dominics Catholic Club
Wed January 26 2022 - BRIGHTON Chalk
Thu January 27 2022 - LONDON Garage
Wed June 08 2022 - BRISTOL THE FLEECE
Fri June 10 2022 - MANCHESTER Manchester Academy 3
Tue June 14 2022 - LONDON Garage

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