Review: SLEIGH BELLS – Reign of Terror

 Healing through music the Electro-Progressive way

[By Franceasca Seiden]

Thank you Sleigh Bells for bringing back the sounds of garage electro with Derek Miller’s guitar shreds and an Alexis Krauss angelic breathy voice.  Their first album Treats was literally a “treat” as to the talent of this dynamic duo. Their sound is reminiscent of 90’s progressive music from bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and Mary Chain and Lush. Krauss’s punk rock and goth style gives Sleigh Bells the edge on what is connecting with music fans. Their appearance on SNL over the weekend helped them sky rocket into the press before their second album Reign of Terror dropped the following Tuesday and critics agree, this band is making its way.

I first discovered Sleigh Bells with their first album Treats in Miami playing at Grand Central and then again opening for LCD Soundsystem at the Hollywood Bowl in 2010. The next year I caught them once again at Coachella. It gave me great joy to see them perform and crush it on SNL especially after the staleness of some other acts in the weeks prior. Sleigh Bells gave a stellar performance achieving cross over success. Yes ladies and gentlemen I believe in cross over success for bands that deserve to be recognized among the masses.   Growing up at the dawn of the summer music festival like Lollapalooza and when MTV actually showed music videos I was lucky enough to discover bands with female lead singers that were inspirational and power houses on stage.  L7, Babes in Toyland, and yes even Courtney Love as a hot mess in those baby doll dress in Hole. But alas these days are gone and its rare that we see that kind of stage presence anymore. As a thirty something woman I immediately reverted back to a time where ripped stockings, doc martin boots and jean shorts with flannels were in when I saw raven esq beauty like Alexis Krauss come on the scene and kick ass with class.

David Miller, a native Floridian like myself moved to  Brooklyn in 2008 on a mission for find a female vocalist to be the lead singer of his band and for the record he was developing later to be known as Treats. He met Krauss at a restaurant in Williamsburg while taking her order and sparked up a convo leading to the formation of Sleigh Bells. Their sound caught the attention of M.I.A. early on who released Treats on her label N.E.E.T which then dominoed the doors opening and caused the duo to have fairly quick success.

Reign Of Terror is a co-collaborative effort by Miller and Krauss and was created as a type of healing process. The sudden and  unexpected loss of Miller’s father from a fatal motorcycle accident gave way for some of the inspiration used for the album. While developing Reign of Terror, Miller’s mom was diagnosed with cancer, but his mother kept encouraging him to pursue his music career and the making of this record.

Eleven tracks is built of songs that walk the tightrope of light and dark compositions arranged to perfection with a hint to hair band 80s metal a la Van Halen guitar riffs, 90s progressive punk, electro bpm. Reign of Terror blends the best of music. On a side note; I usually have the ability to pull up lyrics to illustrate the delicious goodness of a record but since lyrics aren’t available, I could only pull what caught my ear and give you my thoughts on each individual track.  Starred are my favorite. Take what you like and leave the rest.

True Shred Guitar – two minute intro and the title says it all. For all you Def Leppard fans (and yes I’m one of them) You will love.

Born to Lose –  Lo Fi blend of beats and a made up story through the eyes of a suicidal person.

**Crush – Can we use the term rock electro? Ok lets do it! With a throwback to Oh Mickey You’re So Fine and Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit without alluding to the sound or look at all.  It’s what I think of when I hear Crush.  The fun upbeat track breaks up the record and makes it fun.

**End of the Line – a melodic love tribute with hip hop rhymes and longful sound, its actually about Miller saying goodbye to his father. At first hear, I immediately equate to a bad break up. But then again music is subjective like art and people project their own meaning to it.

Leader of The Pack – “Don’t you know he’s never coming back?” stemming from the title its obvious the throwback to the 50s song has to also do with the loss of Miller’s father from his motorcycle accident. The beats and lyrics are sweet and get us ready for my favorite track.

**Comeback Kid – remember how I said projection? Well here is perfect opportunity to equate meaning to a song like this.  Let’s start with that electro pop “I know its hard but you got to deal with it…. try a little harder you’re the comeback kid. You’ll go away but you’ll come back some day.” Drive those electro beats please! YES – they do…

Demon – please tell me that someone recognizes a little ode to Black Sabbath in the guitar riffs? “Take it Down.” Angry synth-pop? perhaps.  I DIG.

** Road to Hell – their single. “Don’t go run away from me baby, Just go away from me baby, Road to hell” – through the smokey breath and interrupted lyrics, this sound is a seductive dance making me fall in love.

***You Lost Me – garage electro ballad with an ode to Van Halen in the riffs with romantic lyricism that can melt the ice off a vampire’s heart.  “I’ll never lie to you but I’m going to have to tell the truth” “I don’t want you to see me this way but I’m ready to die.” – Trust me, your adolescent self will be rearing its head when you hear this one.

Never Say Die – we wind down with a progressive My Bloody Valentine/Lush blend on these two last tracks –  D.O.A.

As their sophomore album, the level of effort and depth is much more mature. There’s nothing not to like about Sleigh Bells, they have their finger on the pulse when it comes to timing and are catching like wild fire. Reign of Terror was released Tuesday February 21st, a few days after their appearance on SNL.  Quick enough rundown? It’s a tease. Go buy their album and support GOOD music.




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