REVIEW: Sleigh Bells – “Reign Of Terror”

[Feb. 21, 2012 – Mom+Pop // Find it at: Insound | iTunes]


On Treats, the eclectic duo of Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller created a type of electricity you weren’t able to find in any other form of music. It was vibrant, blunt and sweet as it was carnal, molding a new side to indie rock that held a blistering kick to it. From that, Sleigh Bells was born and two years later comes Reign Of Terror, a sophomore album that should be the debut’s mischievous twin but isn’t quite that. Sure, Krauss and Miller still inject that new twist on sound, but it’s their niche. Near the record’s opening, “Born To Lose” echoes with nonchalant, well-timed power riffs and stacked drum machine beats that steer into the high school bleachers stomp “Crush” where lyrics shyly bat at affection with the words “you love it” shimmering across the resonating sting of a guitar. With Miller producing and Krauss admitting Terror is more strings-heavy, the effect is no surprise; it’s just backdropped against the theme of the album – straying away from a party tone to tear at stories of love – is where things start to unravel.

The “Rill Rill” feel to “End Of The Line” is inexplicably catchy, but the atmospheric psychedelia (“You Lost Me”), dark passages (“Never Say Die”) and flashback-inducing Sixteen Candles drops of affection (“Road To Hell”) lag in substance and personality. Unlike the debut, Sleigh Bells make sure each track on Terror tells its own story, but the main key to their element is missing. Anthems like “Infinity Guitars” and “Straight A’s” used guitars but made sure they were simplified, forcing basic yet technical picks and Krauss’ voice to rip into you without the use of experimental layering. It was sharp, cutting and demanded attention. The opening two minutes of the album insinuates this but like the simulated crowd, its as if Sleigh Bells are trying to fill a stadium than a single eardrum or small room. The idea of romanticism doesn’t need to be that personal, but with Miller and Krauss’ colossal talent and attention to detail, it’s hard to pick up and walk away from Reign Of Terror entirely when you can just hang onto the record’s drop dead gorgeous points that make you give in.

Download: “Comeback Kid”, “Crush” “End Of The Line”

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