Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Sleigh Bells

  • Treats [Mom + Pop, 2010] A-
  • Reign of Terror [Mom + Pop, 2012] A-
  • Bitter Rivals [Mom + Pop, 2013]

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Treats [Mom + Pop, 2010]
Exploiting a simple yet extreme-seeming variation on indie's noize-toon dichotomy, a made-to-order thrill-of-the-whatever band crosses the Jesus and Mary Chain and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Derek Miller's orchestrated distortions combine the crudeness of the Reid brothers and the virtuosity of Nick Zinner while Alexis-not-Alison Krauss plays the female principle for a childlike sweetness belied by what lyrics you can make out, which suggest in toto that what little human contact this band makes room for will have to wait until such time as sonic immersion fails to satisfy their spiritual yearnings. That their most charming song by far is the straight GeorgeClinton rip "Rill Rill," which leaves open the question of what they can do for an encore. I'll grant that minimalist bands always leave that question open if you'll grant that too often the answer is repeat themselves. A-

Reign of Terror [Mom + Pop, 2012]
I'm happier than I would have figured that they've cut down on their distortion-flaunting pile-of-sound shtick. Several times, in fact, Derek Miller makes me love guitar sounds as bell-like as Alexis Krauss's crystalline soprano, as tapered as her gorgeous gams. Then there's the dying siren that repeats addictively through "You Lost Me"--the one that makes me say, So what if the lyric is about singing from the grave, death is real, and anyway, I really want to hear that sound again right about--yeah! After all, "Comeback Kid" does stay positive no matter how brutally Miller pummels his own riffs with that drum sample. That's nice, right? Elsewhere it's just sweet sensation. Succumb--succumb. A-

Bitter Rivals [Mom + Pop, 2013]
[2013 Dean's List: 52]