Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sleigh Bells: "Bitter Rivals" (album review)

Sleigh Bells are one of the most unique sounding bands going.  They've got a guitar and electronics blitzkrieg that can be a delightfully vicious assault on the ears.

This week the group released their third album, Bitter Rivals, in hopes of recapturing the transcendent nature of their debut, Treats.  They fall short, instead delivering a record that has far less chest-compressing impact.

The title track demonstrates that.  It's a much more melodic cut, with snapping fingers and slashing guitars.  "Sugarcane" is surprisingly, well, sugary sweet.

The duo have always crunched as many sounds into their songs as possible.  They leave little room for the listener to breathe or recover.  However, they push it a little too far on the messy and disjointed "Sing Like A Wire".

The influences on Bitter Rivals seem to be a bit more broad than on previous albums.  There's a disco/dance bounce to "Young Legends", while "Tiger Kit" is built on a classic rock chassis.

In a couple of occasions, we can even use a word that I never thought could ever be connected to Sleigh Bells: tame.  "You Don't Get Me Twice" and "To Hell With You" are limp, almost feeble numbers.

The album standout is "Minnie".  The frenetic song hits you like a chilling shrill horror movie death scream.  It's one of the few songs on the record that you can get lost in.

In the end though, there simply aren't enough of those moments to make it a winner.  Sleigh Bells are obviously one of those acts that need to take their time between albums and not rush things.

Sleigh Bells play The Phoenix in Toronto on November 13th.

Best tracks: "Minnie", "Bitter Rivals"

Track listing for Bitter Rivals:
  • Bitter Rivals
  • Sugarcane
  • Minnie
  • Sing Like a Wire
  • Young Legends
  • Tiger Kit
  • You Don't Get Me Twice
  • To Hell With You
  • 24
  • Love Sick

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