A&E

CD review: Sleigh Bells

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Annie Zaleski

The Details

Sleigh Bells
Reign of Terror
Two stars

Sleigh Bells’ 2010 debut, Treats, was a steel-toed kick to the head that merged programmed punching beats, Alexis Krauss’ playground-taunt vocals and Derek Miller’s blazing metal guitars. The elements remain intact on the duo’s second album, Reign of Terror, but the vibe is noticeably mellower. On “You Lost Me,” cheesy programmed effects swirl with ethereal cooing, while “Never Say Die” mashes ominous music worthy of a video-game boss with twinkling effects.

In the end, Reign never quite gels, mainly because Krauss’ high-register vocals—which often float above like a spirit hovering over a body—feel thin and untethered from the jagged chaos beneath. (On “Comeback Kid,” she sounds almost Smurf-like.) Coupled with amorphous songs, that disconnection lessens Sleigh Bells’ impact. Even the album’s lingering impression feels negligible.

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