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After their respective bands broke up in 2004, guitarist Laura-Mary Carter and drummer Steven Ansell of Brighton, England, started jamming and decided to form a band, which they named Blood Red Shoes. Swearing they would always be “just two people” dedicated to the principles if not always the specific sound of punk, they have since charmed the cognoscenti with the immediacy of their ominous dance rock.

On today’s overcrowded pop playing field, fuzzed-out single-note riffs and up-tempo pounding aren’t going to get you anywhere special, and it hardly seems like a recommendation to point out that Ansell is a better timekeeper than Meg White. What gives Blood Red Shoes the edge over other hard-rock duos is their arresting use of vocal counterpoint: two disparate voices working both with and against each other for dramatic effect, even when they’re singing the same words. Invariably, those words mimic the what-a-drag-it-is-being-young model made fabulous during the heyday of grunge, but at least Carter and Ansell keep things simple. There’s something to be said about a song (“ADHD”) in which the line “I’m so distracted” is repeated over and over to the point of distraction.

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