Sleigh Bells live in London
- By Kelvin Goodson -
- Mar 14, 2012
In an age where only Adele and choirs formed on reality TV shows flog any albums, little attention should be paid to the fact that Sleigh Bells’ second, ‘Reign of Terror’ peaked at 48 in the UK album charts.
However, in an age when many lauded alternative bands turn out second albums that are about as warmly received as a cock-flavoured lollipop (hello Klaxons!), the fact that t’Bells’ sophomore selection has been critically dry-humped in even the sniffiest of quarters is worth paying attention to.
How have they succeeded where the likes of MGMT have crashed and burned like Lewis Hamilton riding a bronco made out of ballistic missiles? By shacking up with a cult and licking toads for two years? By pretending to be the second coming of Syd Barrett? No, simply by being Sleigh Bells - heavier yet poppier, dirtier yet shinier.
It’s an ethos that the Brooklyn-based duo seem to have effortlessly transferred to their live set-up. With an extra guitarist giving those assembled at the Electric Ballroom (a surprisingly healthy mix of the young, beautiful and hip and the not so young, beautiful or hip) extra bang for their buck, the opening squall’n’stomp of ‘True Shred Guitar’ sounds beefier than a tanker full of T-bone.
While it’s easy to focus on the riff barrage that is Sleigh Bells’ trademark thanks to the seemingly endless supply of meaty hooks conjured up by Derek Miller - ex of hardcore experimentalists Poison The Well - the counterbalance that makes his band such a unique prospect is the way they are backed by beats phat enough to fill canyons. The evidence tonight? ‘A/B Machines’, the second oldie of the set that keeps the crowd going apeshit after a rollicking ‘Riot Rhythm’ gets them warmed up.
Of the newies, the shimmering ‘End Of The Line’ has the room captivated, but then that comes easily when you have a frontwoman as instantly iconic as Alexis Krauss, who may be as close as we ever get to genetically splicing very early Madonna with Aaliyah.
While she is as capable as ever as sounding like banshee having a bad day on the likes of ‘Straight A’s’, the control and grace she exhibits on ‘...Line’ and ‘Leader of the Pack’ only lends her performance more power, although the latter may be a slowie too many as it loses the attention of some.
A rearranged ‘Infinity Guitars’ brings the crowd back to a boiling point, while the closing ‘Crown on the Ground’, still arguably Sleigh Bells’ best song, sees it bubble up into a steaming shout-along.
“You fucking killed it, seriously,” Krauss yells as the band down tools, job done. Yeah? Well you fucking sleighed us, Alexis.
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