Blood Red Shoes: Ghosts on Tape (Velveteen) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, March 31st, 2023  

Blood Red Shoes

Ghosts on Tape


Feb 01, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

It’s hard to believe that Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell have been together as Blood Red Shoes for 17 years. And yet on their sixth studio album, Ghosts on Tape, the duo have never sounded so vital or indeed murderous. But fear not, the pair haven’t quite gone full-on Norman Bates just yet. According to the press release, the dark menace and sense of creeping dread that permeates the album was inspired by “true crime and murder podcasts, many songs on the record are told in character and explore the dark psyche of those at the pinnacle of outsiderdom.”

Carter and Ansell had found themselves working on separate sides of the Atlantic with Carter songwriting and composing her solo album in Los Angeles whilst Ansell remained in the UK working on production and industrial fueled electronica. Their last album, Get Tragic, saw a shift in the band’s sound partly due to Carter breaking an arm meaning an enforced break from playing the guitar as the duo pivoted to a more synth-heavy record. With Ghosts on Tape Blood Red Shoes expand on that sound and take it into the darkest corners of the soul. Obviously when you have a musician who can shred as brilliantly as Carter does the guitar will always be an integral element in your overall sound, but Blood Red Shoes’ strength and perhaps the reason for the longevity has always been their ability to fuse styles and their willingness to experiment. There’s also the contrast between Carter and Ansell’s personalities and musical tastes, with Carter surprising herself by discovering her “Americana” side whilst Ansell has immersed himself in experimental synth-rock. One feels that if they wanted to wreak vengeance Ansell would be in your face with a megaphone whereas Carter would perhaps employ a more understated approach. This juxtaposition is apparent throughout the album as Carter and Ansell switch vocal duties and as ever make everything sound perfectly cohesive.

The album kicks off with Ansell raging on the unnerving “Comply,” whilst on the brutal propulsive “Give Up”—which contains the prophetic line “Can’t go outside because I’ll catch the disease” (actually written before COVID was a thing)—he sounds almost Lydon-esque (minus the political incontinence). “I Am Not You” froths and seethes and has been described by Ansell as “a harsh metallic slab of pure rage” and although nothing quite matches the swaggering dystopian doom pop magnificence of the previous single “Morbid Fascination” plenty come pretty close. For example, there’s the darkly seductive rock noir of “Sucker” with Carter’s hypnotic vocals weaving their magic or the gutter grime glam-rock stomp of “I Lose Whatever I Own.”

Ghosts on Tape is a concept album of sorts, interspersed with Archive 81 style white noise and static, full of soaring tunes imbued with an unsettling pervasive atmosphere of being on the edge of…something sinister. It also proves that after nearly two decades in the game Blood Red Shoes remain a dark irresistible force. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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