Sleigh Bells

(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

Treats (2010) , 7/10
Reign of Terror (2012), 6.5/10
Bitter Rivals (2013), 5/10
Jessica Rabbit (2016), 4/10

Sleigh Bells, the New York-based duo of multi-instrumentalist Derek Miller (formerly a punk-rocker in Poison The Well) and vocalist Alexis Krauss, concocted harsh psychotic dance music on Treats (NEET, 2010). She intones naive twee refrains and he blasts them with loud multi-layered industrial-metal arrangements. In fact Tell 'Em has little more than machine-gun and panzer rhythms to devastate Krauss' nursery rhyme. A similar childish singsong gets mauled by electronic noise in Run The Heart. Kids is a sort of tribal chant with industrial-grade percussion and electronic miasmas. The hip-hop declamation of Infinity Guitars collides with pounding drums and heavy-metal guitar. Throughout the booming and distorted Crown On The Ground one can hardly hear the vocalist. Her rap is submerged by thumping, rolling and hissing noise in A/B Machines. Treats unleashes a brutal vibrato crossed with an anthemic riff to defile her angelic verses. The ultimate sadomaso experience is Straight A's, a tsunami of punk guitars and mad electronics that lasts only 90 seconds. At the other end of the spectrum, the ballad Rill Rill is, by comparison, an oasis of simple marching melody.

Reign of Terror (Mom+Pop, 2012) drowns into a maelstrom of heavy-metal riffs, involuntarily sounding like a parody of arena-rock. The vocals are mostly thrown in the background, but the songs that do attain psychotic pathos are precisely the ones dominated by Krauss: the booming industrial metal rigmarole Comeback Kid, the angry Joan Jett-esque anthem Tune Shred Guitar, the catchy mirror-maze vocal game Road to Hell, and especially the "girl-group meets Def Leppard via REM" Crush. The rest rarely achieves the grotesque mystique of the martially syncopated Born To Lose.

Bitter Rivals (2013) is derivative of so many styles that a detailed review would be too long. It begins with bombastic hip-hop a` la Beastie Boys of Bitter Rivals and peaks (melodically speaking) with the bubblegum pop a` la Britney Spears of Young Legends. Sing Like a Wire sounds like Michael Jackson fronting the Nine Inch Nails. Tiger Kit borders on Rage Against The Machine's rap-metal. You Don't Get Me Twice is Joan Jett gone rap. The most fashionable song is perhaps Love Sick, which has a sweet soul melody over fashionable digital polyrhythms and crunchy guitar riffs.

Jessica Rabbit (2016) is just not very musical. Alexis Krauss screams, shouts, raps, and croons but there is little substance to songs that sound like amateurish imitations of fashionable styles. Everything is so unnecessarily bombastic (the messy Britney Spears-esque It's Just Us Now, the even messier Rule Number One, the danceable Crucible) that the sweet ballad Hyper Dark comes as a breath of fresh air. I Can't Stand You Anymore is third-rate power-pop, and Throw Me Down the Stairs is third-rate pop-metal.

The seven-song EP Kid Kruschev (2017) contains the ethereal soul ballad Rainmaker and the more poignant ballad And Saints, songs with unusually basic accompaniment. The usual dose of crunchy guitar riffs sounds wasted in Panic Drills.

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(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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