Sleigh Bells – ‘Texis’ review: New Yorkers throw off the shackles of conformity

More than a decade since their Earth-shattering debut 'Treats', Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller explore new sonic terrain, which is left scorched in their wake

On their arrival in 2009, you ignored Sleigh Bells as easily as a freight train crashing through your front room. ‘Infinity Guitars’ was a cheerleader chant for the Belzebub Broncos; ‘Rill Rill’ the remains of country pop dug up from a post-apocalyptic desert. Over four albums New York duo Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller refined and reimagined the demonic pop assault of 2010’s debut album ‘Treats’ (MO: sublime siren melodies hovering serenely over all-out tech-punk warfare) until 2016’s ‘Jessica Rabbit’ found them conforming to a soft metal formula.

Conformity clearly left a sour taste. For this fifth record they’ve reverted to scintillating savagery. “Here we go! Illegitimate rock’n’roll!” Krauss cries over the electro rock rampage of opener ‘SWEET75’, later asking, “Aren’t you a little too old for rock’n’roll?” Perhaps – the electronic side of Sleigh Bells has undoubtedly matured way past the all-consuming fuzzbombs of their earliest records, taking on the gloss and polish of top-end laptops where once their songs sounded like they’d been dragged screaming and buzzing from a circuit board at Chernobyl. But age has not withered their attack; their original dynamic is back with a vengeance.

“I feel like dynamite,” Krauss squeals on ‘Locust Laced’, a crazed mash of go-go pop, torture-porn thrash metal and dubstep whomps climaxing in a wail of “send me an angel of death!” ‘Tennessee Tips’ is visceral pop metal building to a barrage of ray gun synth-punk. ‘I’m Not Down’ screws ambient textures into eviscerating tech rock while Krauss’ infectious melody appears to address sceptics of the COVID age: “Nobody cares when a line gets crossed / Nobody cares when a life gets lost”.

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Elsewhere, Krauss again tackles affairs of the heart, as if wandering across the track of a monster truck derby reading lovelorn diary entries. “I can see the exit signs right behind your eyes / I can see the thunder clouds come rolling in,” she coos on ‘An Acre Lost’, while she describes herself as a “concrete calendar girl” picking her way around “landmines in my mind” on rave-riot ‘Justine Go Genesis’. The almost poppy ‘Knowing’ takes a more universal slant on long, dark nights of the soul – “I find myself awake in the dark with the same old shit screaming in my ears,” Krauss sings, swapping the subject from herself to fictional others as the chorus repeats – but Sleigh Bells certainly remain as brutal emotionally as sonically.

Touches of experimental ambience (‘Rosary’) and ‘80s fog-pop (‘True Seekers’) work well as light relief and ‘Texis’, as an exercise in full-throttle revitalisation, is dynamite indeed. Rock’n’roll ain’t done with them yet.

Details

Release date: September 10

Record label: Lucky Number Limited

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