Sleigh Bells: in your face!

R0020685AFTER a successful couple of albums, New York based Noise-Pop duo Sleigh Bells are back, merely a year after their last release, Reign of Terror.  Despite the fact the space between their second and third albums seems quite small, the difference between the albums is pretty noticeable. Bitter Rivals sounds more like the duo’s debut, Treats, than Reign of Terror. However, even with this factor being taken into account, Bitter Rivals still brings in new elements to Sleigh Bell’s sound.

In this new record, Sleigh Bells have pretty much abandoned the obscurity that appeared frequently on various tracks on Reign of Terror, sacrificing this for a cleaner (in terms of Noise-Pop) sound. As I have previously mentioned, Bitter Rivals takes more of a leaf out of their debut album, with more songs that could be considered ‘Pop’, and standout more as individual songs. If you listen carefully, you’ll probably be able to pick out the main riff of ‘Infinity Guitars’ being reused.

Vocally, Alexis Krauss both varies her style and refines it. We are greeted by her signature scream/shout vocals and throughout the album we are treated to her variety of (at times, funny) spoken vocals. However, there are several songs where Krauss presents us with a more relaxed, soulful performance, which is a really pleasant change to what was expected; this brings some more diversity to the album, most notably on ‘To Hell With You’.

Musically, it’s a similar story. Those crunchy drum beats and guitar riffs are all still there, but have also expanded and changed. Their powerful synths are used sparingly, only being brought out on a couple of numbers, notably ‘Sing Like a Wire’. ‘Young Legends’ and ‘24’ almost abandon the ‘Noise’ aspect of their genre, and could easily fit right in with the majority of tracks in the Top 40. While there are those tracks that differ from the general feel of the album, there are points where the sound begins to feel repetitive. Unlike Treats, Bitter Rivals doesn’t feel like it has the amount of standout tracks to justify sticking to a similar formula, which lets the album down slightly.

Overall though, Bitter Rivals is not a bad album. While it’s certainly not one of the most standout albums of the year, it shows that Sleigh Bells are trying to (successfully) vary their style and have, at the same time, created one of the better Pop albums of the last year. This is an album for anyone who likes their Pop music loud and in your face.