Sleigh Bells’ “Texis” tramples on the sensory overload of pop metal


Rating: 3.5 / 5.0

The epitome of carefree 2010s noise pop, Sleigh Bells has been etched in the minds of anyone lucky enough to experience their early work as a storm of electro-rock music. The duo, made up of elementary school teacher turned singer Alexis Krauss and amateur heavy metal guitarist Derek Miller, are widely revered as the artist behind the hottest and most renegade songs in countless teen movies. 2010s – “Kids” and “Crown on the Sol” to name a few.

However, after taking a smoother turn on their last two albums, the once-booming group seemed to have strayed, sacrificing not only the quality of the music, but also the unmatched energy that so many had grown to love. Released September 10, Sleigh Bells’ fifth studio album, Texas, bought the duo to the glory of yesteryear, catapulting the group to the good old days of 10 years ago, when they reigned on independent airwaves.

It’s clear from the get-go that the duo aim to facilitate Texas back in the mood of its debut in 2010 Sweets, a demonic cheerleader team singing maelstrom that would put all the Bring it on film franchise to shame. “Are you a little too old for rock and roll?” Krauss jokingly sings on “Sweet75”, the dynamic opening with punchy drums and heavy bass. The sharp guitar riffs paired with saccharine vocals create a jarring soundscape, but it’s one that longtime Sleigh Bells fans will find heartwarming and familiar.

The soft rhythm of “An Acre Lost” offers a brief respite from the barrage of “Sweet75”, pierced periodically by crackling drums and sometimes frantic guitars. Deliberately, never quite settling into a steady groove, the song keeps listeners on their toes, throwing them loop after loop with every bouncy note: Sleigh Bells’ specialty.

Texas is an assortment of eclectic new sounds that transcend genres, rooting in the shocking yet undeniably catchy nature of Sleigh Bells’ early work. It doesn’t quite have the same punch as Sweets Where Reign of terror, but the album still has its own charm in its curiosity and unpredictable song structure.

“I’m Not Down” is a perfect blend of bubbly pop and hardcore, an astonishing composition of conflicting genres that somehow manage to fill the gaps in the song. Instead of choosing to rely on the screams of disgruntled teenagers, Krauss’s adherence to more melodic vocals throughout the record is better suited to the group, but his softer voice doesn’t have the effrontery that recalls previous experimental works. That being said, “I’m Not Down” is still beautiful on its own, a way for Sleigh Bells to show that they can still take things up a notch while retaining most of their vigor.

Stay true to the volatile nature of Texas, “Knowing” and “True Seekers” shift the album’s speeds to softer ’80s beats, punctuating the heavy electronic and hard rock direction of the music with light blackouts and an emphasis on melody . However, the songs are far from being really considered “sweet”, as the band still incorporates moments of rough guitar and roaring drums every now and then. By merging this new sound with their old proven formula, Sleigh Bells triumphantly created another unique style.

Loaded with experimental electronic sounds cut by angry guitars, Texas is the true return of Sleigh Bells. While Texas seems slightly more forced than Sweets, one of the only other comparable albums in Sleigh Bells’ discography, Texas has an air of boldness as well as curiosity. At Texas, the group evolves its sound while relying on its well-built and ferocious musical base. This not only makes the album more remarkably unusual, but it makes it more palatable in its journey into vaguely familiar – but refreshing nonetheless.

Don’t let the old, unassuming photo of Krauss on the album cover fool you – Sleigh Bells has yet another trick up its sleeve with Texas.

Contact Pooja Bale at [email protected]. Tweet her on @callmepbj.

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