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Sleigh Bells

by David King on March 22, 2012


 Sleigh Bells’ second disc is sophomoric. The vibrant production that combined crunchy guitar work and big dropping hip-hop beats on the band’s debut Treats is nowhere to be found on Reign of Terror. Instead the guitars are grating, the riffs lame and the beats robotic and tinny. And that is nothing to say of lead singer Alexis Krauss’ vocals. On Treats, her pouted and purred lyrics were cute and sexy accents to the poppy cacophony around her. On Reign of Terror, her sighed and shouted slogans are more the focus of the arrangements and, unfortunately, they just aren’t strong enough to carry a song. The listener is immediately confronted by this on the opening track. Krauss can yelp and cheerlead, but when it’s time to sing she resorts to a kind of sexy mumbling that pops up on just about every track. “End of the Line” unsuccessfully tries to recreate the summery bluster of the acoustic track “Rill Rill,” off of Treats, but Krauss’ “uh uh” chorus falls flat, feeling forced and corny. Frankly, the idea that Sleigh Bells are presenting some sort of unique noise-pop hybrid is absurd. Their “shred guitars” and hip-hop beats have been the staple of industrial bands like KMFDM and Mindless Self Indulgence for decades. What set them apart was the band’s pop finesse, but all of that is lost on Reign of Terror. It’s unclear whether the band wanted more of a guitar edge or were trying to re-create the tracks that ended up as the soundtrack to what seemed like a million commercials. The band shouldn’t have the burden of that kind of success with this album—cause it’s simply a bad album—but Krauss’ ripped shirts, tights and tattoos will probably keep the band in mainstream money.