I was wondering what was going to arise from the third album; TREATS had been full of energy;Reign of Terror more towards hard driving tempos and since Sleigh Bells have been various described as noise, indie or industrial rock, also dance or, synth punk, as well as noise pop then to my old ears anything could happen. Firstly Alexis Krauss seems to have taken over the writing for this album and whereas you can depend on the signature wonderful wave of electronic cacophony; on Bitter Rivals the duo are trying out other approaches. It might sound odd from Sleigh Bells but at times there is a melodic and lighter touch. To illustrate why I have this impression here's track by track commentary: `Bitter Rivals' starts with deceptive small town jaunty guitar chords and a barking dog (no kidding) before lurching into Sleigh Bells mixed with rap, which gets the attention. `Sugarcane' is back to the familiar territory of the preceding albums `Minnie' again makes you think things are settling down, but there is compelling and creepy chanting chorus in which Krauss turns on her `girlie' voice. 'Sing Like A Wire' is also classic Sleigh Bells interspersed with a texture of `sound' that verges on the orchestral suggesting they are trying out new approaches to the familiar. 'Young Legends' is different, this closer to happy and jaunty pop, no assault by a grand wall of distorted guitars we are into the melodic. `Tiger Kit' mixes up the whole business, there's cow's moos (in small measure), Krauss in another more harmonious frame of voice, while Miller throws in acoustic, R&B and electronic and the whole works. `You Don't Get Me Twice' revisits the high school exuberance of Treats. `To Hell With You' is not actually a curse but an affirmation of the I-follow-you-anywhere sort, more plaintive and pleading-set me thinking of early 1960's `romantic pop-songs' `24' is one I can't make my mind up about, it's in the frame of this Sleigh Bell approach to melody and certainly of a lighter touch. As well is `Love Sick' although at a faster pace. Once there is a third album everyone can start the debate over the `best/lesser' one. If someone told me I could have only one of their albums it would be `Reign of Terror', but I would miss not having `Bitter Rivals'.(and lament not having Treats!) It would be difficult to say whether this album will turn off followers and/or attract new converts for this lighter approach. Sleigh Bells are confident enough to move in different directions while still keeping their identity. Overall it works for me and unless you really loved them just for that Wall of Force and Tempo I believe you would want to add this to the previous two.
Discovered this band by pure accident and bought this CD , great duo and on the back of this I will be searching for the back catalogue. For fans of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs , Ting Tings and anything loud and Rocking !!
Now this is a real surprise. I had been following Sleigh Bells for a while, while never being totally convinced taht they were as good as what was written. Here I have to say that I must change my mind totally on the subject. This is a great record, one of the best of the yea, and we are very late in the year indeed.