Given the album art, I do hope that Keds bankrolled this ‘Reign of Terror‘ for these two creative kids whose 2010 ‘Treats’ knocked me on my ass.  It hurt like going to the dentist, except that your dentist was Kanye West, except that Kanye West was produced by Crystal Castles, except that Crystal Castles has just revealed that they had been borne of the ashes and silt of the krautrock scene.  My expectations and excitement were through the roof for this album, so it was easy to be let down (I was indeed). For all of the school-shooter imagery, the whole thing felt a little wrist-slashy.

Still, still, still: a recommended “yes, do listen,” it seems that whatever “high school” Sleigh Bells attends really made them sit through some restraining classes on music theory.  I didn’t need to turn it down once, and all of the songs fell into some type of tempo that offered almost no challenge.  Yes, it can be bad for an album to (1) not hurt to listen to and (2) be accessible, but only in cases when a band clearly set a precedented genius capability of being incredibly obtuse.

The opening and closing tracks (“True Shred Guitar” and “D.O.A.,” respectively) felt the fiercest and most raw of all of the offering, which is generally the case in an album that’s fine-but-filler.  To be blunt, the rest of it half-heartedly approached these moments of honesty, but fell too much into boring tempo when you’d hope for a gunshot sample or sharply-distorted shred to refresh the energy. It’s unclear why “True Shred Guitar” is recorded with an audience track (does not sound like it’s recorded live), but the reference to stadium rock is both confusing and appreciated. Alexis Krauss’ vocal experimenting made many of the tracks remind me of OK Go, which isn’t the worst thing to be reminded of, but it’s also clear that Krauss’ talent lays in her ability to scream wall-shakingly loud.

All in all, there’s something to appreciate about Sleigh Bells returning for a second album.  Even if it’s a little more goopy and commercial (shout out to Details and the NYTimes for hyping the shit out of this), I figured they would move on and never be heard from again.  Clearly they still had more to explore in their razor-edged bubblegum noisy pop, and here’s to hoping that this isn’t the one that they leave us with.

Sleigh Bells tour dates:
2/14/12            Miami, FL @ Grand Central
2/17/12            New York, NY @ Terminal 5
2/21/12            Los Angeles, CA @ Music Box
2/23/12            San Francisco, CA @ Regency Ballroom
2/24/12            Seattle, WA @ Showbox at Market
3/26/12            Toronto, ON @ Phoenix
3/27/12            Washington, D.C. @ 9:30 Club

Listen to the single (and ask, “Why is this the single?”):