Sleigh Bells “Bitter Rivals” (2013) Album Review

I’m a big fan of Sleigh Bells, I loved their debut album, Treats and found it to be a memorable, unique, and loud in a good way. Their second album, Reign of Terror, was different. It went for a darker approach in terms of lyric writing due to the Derek Miller (Guitarist) going through a lot of personal tragedy in his family, regardless I liked it, not as much as Treats but still a thoroughly enjoyable album albeit for different reasons for the most part. Bitter Rivals, their third album, was announced last month out of no where and I was nothing but excited, the single came out, a title track, and I was impressed. The lyrics were a bit cheesy but it didn’t bother me because it sounded more similar to Treats but less lo-fi and more production, an enjoyable track overall.

As I sat and listened to the album, it is definitely more Treats-centric but still has its own flare. It’s different, uses a lot of unique sounds through out and doesn’t just entirely focus on loud, thrashing guitars with Alexis Krauss’ melodic vocals rather it experiments. In addition, Alexis Krauss seems to be having a lot of fun making strange noises that oddly fit the album well especially in “You Don’t Get Me Twice.” I can’t say every track is overly memorable but I still love the more loose, fun, laidback tone of the album rather than the darker contents ofReign of Terror. I prefer they be a fun, loud, and fantastic duo even if the lyrical content isn’t overly impressive in this album compared to Treats.

The beats in the album are still just as enticing as their previous work and remind me of why I loved the band in the first place-they take so many different aspects whether it be from hip-hop or garage rock. If anything, the album is fun. Really damn fun which is what I want from them. Do I somewhat miss their lo-fi sound? Yeah, kind of but I don’t mind the added production values, bands like to change up their style but Sleigh Bells still manages to keep as much integrity as before. Sometimes, the album does go a bit all over the place and doesn’t know for sure what it wants to be especially in a track like “Sing Like a Wire” where it goes back and forth from being quiet and loud but without much reason. Overall, an impressive third album in my opinion, it went back to the fun nature of the band even if the lyrical content isn’t overly impressive…oh, and the album ended with literal sleigh bells…so, what’s not to love?

Favorite Tracks: “Bitter Rivals”: A charming, simplistic track with slightly cheesy lyric content that switches from the typical loud Sleigh Bells to a simple rap-like verse of “You are my bitter rival/But I need you for survival.”

“Sugarcane”: Sounds like a straight-up genuine Sleigh Bells track with its melodic vocals, nothing more, nothing less. Could easily have been on Treats which is a good thing.

“Minnie”: Some may hate the screechy and odd-sounds that Alexis Krauss makes in this song but I found it to be thoroughly enjoyable, a different approach to their typical music. Has a similar type of verse to the title track with the repetition of “Minnie, Minnie go count your pennies/I’m sorry to say you don’t have many.”

“Young Legends”: It manages to be a fairly calmer track than the usual and works really well. It’s surprisingly streamlined and more focused rather than being loud, it shows their ability to be quieter like Rill Rill did in Treats.

“You Don’t Get Me Twice”: Again, has the strange/odd sounds of Alexis Krauss as well as the higher pitches but I love it even if it’s fairly undetectable as what the hell she is saying sometimes. On top of that, just more genuine Sleigh Bells. “I receive no warning, now that’s heartwarming/Alright, the weather’s boring/Love, let me tell you a story,” reminded me of the song, “Kids,” from Treats which I liked.

“To Hell With You”: We’ve reached dog noises in Sleigh Bells. Screw it, why not? One of the better songs lyrically on the albums albeit on the simplistic side but good nonetheless. Again, another calmer track on the album that I like, nice to see them not need to be completely loud all of the time. Also, the beat is absolutely fantastic. “There’s always someone somewhere who cares, hey there,” one of my favorite lines in the album due to its raw simplicity as well as the way its sung by Alexis Krauss.



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