Imagine a fifty calibre machine gun, fired from the top of a United States Marine Humvee. In super high definition slow motion. That's how the opening track ('Tell 'em') of Sleigh Bells debut effort begins. An assualt on your ears that almost prevents you from thinking about anything other than the staccato melodies and bombastic bass beats. Sleigh Bells are a duo out of Brooklyn, New York. Derek Miller, a former member of Poison The Well, an experimental hardcore band, and Alexis Krauss, a former member of teen pop group Rubyblue. Two contrasting forces who when put in a recording studio together produce a sound that is totally fresh and utterly unique.
While they have existed for a couple of years as a music-making partnership their first, full album release came in May last year. You may be thinking I have simply dug out an old review and re-posted it but you'd be wrong. The reason I'm yakking on at you about an album almost a year old is that it seems to have slipped under most people's radars. Rather than being one of those individuals who prides themselves on exclusively listening to bands who no one else has ever heard of, I like as many people as possible to enjoy the music which gets my rocks off. So from here on in I’m hoping to convince you to part with your cash, be it digitally or actually in person (I KNOW, WTF, RIGHT?!) and check this behemoth of a record out.
Following the stutter riff off ‘Tell ‘em’ we are introduced to a song called ‘Kids’ which winds itself up like a heavyweight haymaker and has Krauss’ vocals reverberating around your ears before swinging you into a brick wall of brass stabs and whirling buzzsaw synths. All backed up by the trademark, big bass beat driving the record on. The lyrics here are supplemented by spoken pieces which rather than slowing things down add to the slightly sinister feel this album has. It’s much to do with the haunting lyrics, sung by a female lead in an imploring, teen girl voice supported by the angry, staccato beats and guitar sounds. The spoken word outro of ‘Kids’ (as much as you could call it an outro) blends into a song which does exactly as it says on the tin: Riot Rhythm. Speaker blowing kick drums compliment, yes, compliment, the sugar sweet vocals. The album continues to bounce, or rather blitzkrieg, it’s way through another three gems of sparky, fire-hot noise pop before you reach your first three minute plus song. ‘Rill Rill’ marks a change in pace for the first time on the album and it’s smooth, acoustic strumming hook swiped from Funkadelic’s ‘Can You Get To That’ and the bell sounds contrives to just charm your socks off.
This band don’t intend to let you drift off into this sun-bleached bliss for long though, they rip you two new earholes with an epic song named ‘Crown On The Ground’ which screeches through your brain with echoes of some lost Vietnam-era anthem before developing into a giant stadium stomper. This duo have no delusions of grandeur however as they drag their shit straight back to the gutter and yank you into a minute and a half of a street brawl between what sounds like several guitars drowned in distortion and a choir of angry teenagers screaming blue murder at each other.
The final track, coming on the back of a post-apocalyptic tribal rock band chant ‘A/B Machines’ manages to encompass everything that makes this album such a beautiful monster. A rip roaring riff, the most bombastic beats you could ever hope to hear and Krauss managing to sound like a gorgeous spectre guiding you through the chaos. As this album reaches it’s denouement with the crescendo of the title track, I’ll be damned if you don’t agree that you feel like you have been strapped to the back of Godzilla and menaced your way through multiple Japanese super cities while Kink Kong provided a soundtrack on a wailing guitar the size of the Empire State Building, leaving behind a trail of explosions, ruins, upturned vehicles and preachers calling for the end of days. This shit is real.