Release Date: Nov 10, 2017
Record label: N/A
Sleigh Bells haven't exactly had an easy time of it. Their debut album Treats was perhaps never fully intended as a "statement" album - it was just so damn fun, it turned into one. While Reign of Terror layered on enough complexity (both musical and emotional) to keep the hype burning, what's come since - fairly or nay - has been increasingly less embraced.
Time does play tricks on the static. Drive the same route, report to the same museum, return to the same empty apartment. Nothing changes, but also everything changes - buildings crumble, bridges collapse, trees disappear. Funny, how in a city you can measure the stride of time by what falls away ….
Sleigh Bells are in a dark place these days, and who can blame them? The electroclash mélange of their first two records--2010's Treats and 2012's Reign of Terror--emerged during a period of comparatively little ambient stress, but in 2017, like everyone, the New York duo is feeling the weight of the world around them. While their early work tended to use lyrics as texturing tools, splicing in the words that sounded the best and brashest, they have since adopted a narrative thrust in their songs. The band's newest release, the mini-album Kid Kruschev, offers perhaps the most thematic cohesion of any of their albums so far.
In a market where trends, even whole genres, can come and go in a matter of months, Sleigh Bells's novelty was almost too perfectly calibrated when they made their debut with 2010's Treats. The blunt juxtaposition of Derek Miller's absurdly loud, overdriven guitars and Alexis Krauss's sugary, melodic voice was an oversaturation of paradoxes: hard and soft, heavy and light, rock and pop, “masculine” and “feminine. ” It made for an interesting art statement--not to mention a killer album--but where could they possibly go from there? And yet, to at least this critic's surprise, the Brooklyn duo have continued to tweak their core ethos to greater and lesser degrees.
Unfortunately however, they've prioritised timeliness over quality on this mini LP. Kid Kruschev feels like a panic of premature ideas jumbled together, resulting in a trying listen. Their debut Treats sat similarly uncomfortably, but in a good way: Derek Miller's piercingly loud, overpowering instrumentation fought against Alexis Krauss' forceful vocal, but remained accessible through incredible hooks and catchy chanting.