American noise pop duo Sleigh Bells debut new album: “Jessica Rabbit”
By Alex Woodliff, Staff Writer
Hi-fi, indie, garbage pop, and noise-pop, are just a few of the names that have been used to describe Sleigh Bells since their 2010 debut “Treats.” Mixing band creator and guitarist Derek E. Miller’s blown out distorted heavy metal enthused guitar riffs and compositions with lead singer Alexis Krauss’ saccharin coated vocals and melodies gave birth to an interesting sound. One that should not have worked but despite all odds found an interesting harmony on “Treats.”
The Brooklyn based duo has kept silent since their third album, “Bitter Rivals” released in 2013. Both have admitted in interviews that this album was done in a series of short recording sessions. Miller, who was known for his trademark dark sunglasses and affinity for heavy metal guitar riffs comes from a metal-core background while Krauss has formal vocal training as well has being a part of small indie pop groups.
It is a sound clash that for all intents and purposes should not have worked. Combing Krauss vocals and Miller’s guitars gave way to a surprising sound and formula. “Treats” had a give-and-take nature that meshed. Their two-follow ups though found a battle of wills between their respective sounds. While they were serviceable, they lacked the symbiosis of their debut.
Sometimes Millers guitars and production would drown out Krauss vocals. Other times it seemed Krauss vocals were overpowering. This was mostly due to a mixture of personal issues and high expectations to recapture the mix that made “Treats” so surprising. That however has been fixed on “Jessica Rabbit.” Both have talked about in interviews how doing this album bit by bit after taking time off helped in the long run. That playful dueling clash of their respective sounds has finally returned.
On “Jessica Rabbit” Miller gives Krauss more control. Keeping to the standard punk and pop formula of short infectious songs, “Jessica Rabbit” is both in your face yet playful. Opening with “It’s Just Us Now” opens with Miller’s trademark distortion before Krauss sings “And when you die/I wanna die, I wanna die with you/And lay us down for good.” The track works to establish that this is a band that would rather burn out brightly than go out flickering. I’ll show you how to shake the pain like it’s cinnamon.”
On “I Can’t Stand You Anymore” Miller lays a restrained melody while Krauss bluntly lays out her grievances with someone “God only knows the h#ll that I chose.” The Smiths inspired “I Can Only Stare” finds Krauss battling her emotions dealing with unrequited infatuation “Do you know how I feel/Knocking on your door till my knuckles bleed?”
While not completely on par with “Treats,” “Jessica Rabbit” is a step in the right direction. It is currently available for digital download on iTunes and their website.