Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Track Review: Sleigh Bells - Bitter Rivals

The power duo has been restricted since the days of Death From Above 1979. Sure, The White Stripes were in the rock zone back in the 00s, but nobody has challenged since. Japandroids offer a bit of the Canadian punk rock, like they did spectacularly on 2012s Celebration Rock. The Black Keys play the blues without a bassist successfully, but haven’t challenged the popularity and influence of The White Stripes. There are more examples of power duos coming and going, all without touching the quality of DFA or The White Stripes. Then Sleigh Bells came along in 2008 and changed everything. They took the power duo concept and made it a power uno. Derek E. Miller is the brains behind the band, with Alexis Krauss acting as eye candy, or just someone with a voice. There's no fashion statement going on with Sleigh Bells, they're just the music concept of Miller's noise pop dreams.  

Treats was released in 2010 to major critical praise, me included. As listens went on by, this praise vanished as Sleigh Bells were stuck with an album of similar material with no room to improve, expand, and even experiment. One fabulous sample of Funkadelic won't last you a lifetime guys. Sleigh Bells eventual fall was seen in one of last year’s worse releases, Reign of Terror. Lyrically, it was awful, structure wise, it was one giant mess. Krauss had a part to play in the lyrics and structure of Reign of Terror, possibly the reason behind its fall. Miller is the average Joe husband in this creative partnership it seems.

Sleigh Bells began writing and recording their third album as soon as they realised Reign of Terror wasn’t all it was hyped up to be. Bitter Rivals will be released in October, with the duo releasing its self-titled opening track this week. "Bitter Rivals" uses the same single-like format of "Comeback Kid". They're going for a pop structure with a chorus instead of the free for all noise found on Treats. It will introduce Bitter Rivals pleasantly. There’s a distorted synthesizer background and sweet beat that's been missing from Sleigh Bells instrumentals. It does feature a Krauss spoken chorus, and that's the weakest point on "Bitter Rivals". Miller doesn’t need to create pop songs; he just has to make great beats, great samples and a killer guitar riff to go with it. Krauss is making Sleigh Bells in to something Treats never suggested. Referring to the critical reparation three years ago, Sleigh Bells haven’t yet developed their sound, or extended the musical focus. They're stuck in this circle of noise pop without the option to cash in - it will certainly be their downfall.


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