Sleigh Bells may not ever go down as one of the best bands of this musical generation, but dammit if this Brooklyn spawned two piece isn’t one of the more fun acts around. Their music is loud. It’s punchy. And it’s infectious. When first hitting the scene with Treats, Sleigh Bells’ sound was brilliant, new, and fresh. Following up with Reign of Terror, without changing their sound, they were able to continue to garner praise and expand their fan base. Now with the release of their third album Bitter Rivals, they are once again able to hang on to that signature high octane, overdriven sound. But will their still-young audience stay interested?
The problem I foresee people having with Bitter Rivals is honestly an issue that anyone that enjoyed the first two albums should not be having. Bitter Rivals accomplishes everything you’d want a Sleigh Bells album to accomplish in 29 head-thrashing minutes. Which is their shortest effort to date. Instead of trying to go different routes and wow an audience with a new variety of instrumentation or even some type of dramatically different song structure, they are sticking with a formula that has worked, while still finding new ways to keep it fresh. That is why I like this album. The problem is that this is truly a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario. Think similarly to the Black Keys first few albums. It wasn’t until their fifth release that they really began to cater to a different crowd with a newly modified sound. Some people were upset at the Black Keys for abandoning their straight-forward two piece blues format. Others thought they were growing stale and welcomed the change. The fact was, the Black Keys themselves weren’t confident in keeping their format fresh enough to continue on, so they added elements and a new production style to change things up.
Sleigh Bells have not yet hit the point in which they need to do this. Songs like “Sugarcane” and “Sing Like A Wire” show us that they can still rock that signature formula into new melodies as good as ever. All the while other songs like the very poppy, Madonna-esque “Young Legends”, a bit of a bluesy number in “You Don’t Get Me Twice”, and even the title track “Bitter Rivals” show us that they are still able to come up with very fresh ways to slightly tweak that formula while infusing new influences and sounds. “To Hell With You” is also a strong example, being reminiscent to Reign of Terrors “Road to Hell” with a coy little twist, while coming away as the stronger of the two albums slower songs. Alexis also gives herself a bit more opportunity to vocally stretch herself in this album which is a pleasant touch.
I for one am pleased with their newest effort. At this point in the game, there is no need to fix something that clearly isn’t broken. I’ll be seeing them for the fifth time in November, and am happy to have some new kick ass tracks to jump around to.
Can’t Miss: “Bitter Rivals”, “Young Legends”, “Sing Like A Wire”, “To Hell With You”
Can’t Hit: “Love Sick”