Anyone who’s played in a band knows how hard it is to find like-minded souls who won’t resist every single musical idea you generate. Finding that one person to share a musical experience with is incredibly hard. That’s why there will always be something heroic and romantic about duos. And I don’t mean like Hall & Oates gurning their way through ‘Maneater’. I mean the gutsy, primal, stripped to basics, minimalist-as-hell configuration of drums, guitar and voice.Now since the advent of the White ‘siblings’ these duos are ten a penny and frequently overhyped, or overexposed too early in their career. That was essentially my surmise of Blood Red Shoes when the Brighton duo first started to garner attention with a string of early singles (gathered together in the singles compilation I’ll Be Your Eyes, released in June 2007).There are subtle changes in the formula from their debut. Box Of Secrets was fun, instinctive and enjoyable but also possessed a disappointing uniformity across the record that meant as a whole it didn’t bear repeated listening. A glossy and congenial listen but hardly demanding, especially when held up against much of the source material that inspired it. However Fire Like This is a subtly different beast. The vaguely angular riffs and indie disco clipped hi-hats have largely been replaced with a greater mastery of dynamics. Lead single ‘Light It Up’ employs a languid, wandering guitar line over loose, tom-heavy drums before exploding into the chorus. Think In Utero era Nirvana and you’re not far away. The sound is heavier, dirtier and less fussy – which can be attributed in part to the quality of the analogue recording. The lack of overdubs creates a greater spatial awareness on the tracks, and a real sense of depth, which their newly found control of quiet-loud dynamics amplifies. This is particularly exemplified on ‘When We Wake’, with Laura-Mary Carter’s hushed vocals counterpointing the minor key guitar refrain (which bears a passing resemblance to ‘Whirring’ by The Joy Formidable). Lyrically the song deals in universal truisms (“In the end is this all we can ask for? Breathing every day and night just waiting”), but the simplicity of the message is added depth and weight by the structure of the song. Building and regressing there is space for the song to grow, for contemplation. It feels effortless and composed, and is the core of the album.There is also a greater willingness to experiment with the form on Fire Like This. Album closer ‘Colours Fade’ commences with a discordant, serrated guitar and is underpinned by a driving rhythmic beat. So far, so Sonic Youth you may think but after three minutes the song is consumed in a wall of reverb soaked, pulsating, throbbing noise.There are many admirable qualities to the record, but despite the highlights there is a tendency to go full tilt on certain tracks which lead to them becoming indistinguishable and irrelevant in the context of the album. This is especially perverse as they first gained attention due to the intensity of their live sets and early singles. However there is evidence here that indicates a burgeoning appreciation of the craft of song writing, structure and aesthetic which, along with the increase in production values and vocal performance, points to an exciting third record.