6 March 2012
listen: reign of terror
Andrew Reinholds reviews the latest installment from New York based musical duo, Sleigh Bells.
New York duo Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss came out of nowhere in 2010 to deliver one of the surprise albums of the year. Treats was a ragged glory of shrieking fuzz guitars and ear piercing distortion that had the strength to blow your socks off. A true DIY gem.
They’re back here with their follow up, and as one would suspect given the success of their debut, it’s a much slicker beast to its predecessor. The result is that, on the surface at least, very little has changed. In fact, if anything it possibly even louder than Treats – cue opening track ‘True Shred Guitar’ which is a pastiche of the kind of live rock recording that you would expect from the likes of stadium rockers Def Leppard with its mock audience baiting and chanting “push it, push it, push it’.
And it sets the tone perfectly for what is to come. Guitars, layers and layer of guitars, slice through most tracks like a buzz saw, over which Krauss cusses and curses with almost child-like glee. While the guitars take their cue from big dumb metal riffs, Krauss is genuinely funny throughout, and while the cheerleader chanting can almost overstay its welcome (as on ‘Crush’) generally they duo move things on just in the nick of time.
Unfortunately, the album hasn’t moved on enough though. For all the volume and attitude, it lacks the rough edges and unpolished charm that made Treats so enjoyable. And, ironically enough, it’s the slower songs – ‘End of the Line’ and ‘You Lost Me’ – that show the way forward, just as the sublime ‘Rill Rill’ did on their debut.
So decision time then for Sleigh Bells – it almost seems as they need to go back a step if they really want to progress.