Sleigh Bells get heavier, stay catchy.
2012, Mom + Pop Music
7.6 / 10.0
After releasing 2010’s Treats, Brooklyn duo Sleigh Bells became one of indie music’s more well-known acts. Driving the band’s success was its debut album that seemingly contained top-to-bottom singles, none bigger than “Rill Rill” (initially named “Ring Ring”) that was likely a ringtone for many people, even ones that didn’t know who the Sleigh Bells were. Then other Sleigh Bells’ tunes made it into car commercials and the trailer for that horrible Taylor Lautner movie that bombed. Still, Sleigh Bells proved their badassery at making Taylor Lautner appear legitimately tough.
Reign of Terror ups the aggressive nature of the duo’s music with Derek E. Miller’s guitar work having a stronger crunch than Treats. Alexis Krauss is no pushover though, and her voice is prominent as ever in her bubblegum cheery demeanor and its distorted, evil twin. Reign of Terror’s louder, fuzzier sound is only a minor change though and isn’t a great leap forward from Treats. However, the duo’s brand of noise pop is so potent that they leave little room for a bad song, even though there is a couple this time around.
It’s unfortunate that the two bad ones come back-to-back at the album’s close – “Never Say Die” and “D.O.A”. Both avoid being the cliché Sleigh Bells song, dropping their familiar distortion in favor of going dreamy. The effect works for the preceding “You Lost Me”, adding some Gremlins’ theme and focused clarity behind Krauss’ soft vocals and Miller’s ‘80s metal riffs. However, lumping all three together works much the same way as when your body crashes after an intense physical workout, which is what Reign of Terror is before it comes to its final three songs.
It’s good to hear Sleigh Bells attempting something different than their usual chaotic and pretty arrangements. But Reign of Terror doesn’t need a great change-up from Treats to be good. I don’t feel like Sleigh Bells have yet to reach that middle-of-the-road transition stage, and they can keep feeding me Treats when the songs are as good as “Born To Lose”, “Comeback Kid”, and “End of the Line”. As of right now, I’m still hungry.
Purchase: Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror