Review Summary: Aren't you a little too old for rock and roll?
When Sleigh Bells entered the scene in 2010 with their debut LP Treats
, it seemed as if nobody else was doing what they were. Their novel blend of aggressive synth-rock and sugary pop hooks was as dizzying as it was euphoric – a mad scientist’s concoction of clashing musical concepts that shouldn’t
have worked yet somehow did. The result was one of the most experimental and simultaneously enjoyable releases of its time, even if it was far from perfect. Since then, vocalist Alexis Krauss and guitarist Derek Edward Miller have careened between further refinement of that initial flash bang of success (Reign of Terror
) and more expansive pop influences (Jessica Rabbit
). While they’ve remained interesting and relevant, they’ve never quite recaptured that earliest spark – that is, until now.
‘SWEET75’ draws you in immediately with its video game styled synths, boisterous tempo, and memorable verses (Krauss prods us with the question “aren't you a little too old for rock and roll?”; the answer clearly is no), and from there Texis
never really takes its foot off the gas. Sleigh Bells’ fifth LP is arguably their most uptempo creation to date, which we witness as ‘An Acre Lost’ serves up a steady dose of frenetic guitars and stuttering synths before giving way to ‘I’m Not Down’, which is something of a rock ‘n’ roll incarnation of Chvrches. Anyone following the band is already familiar with Texis
’ lead single ‘Locust Laced’, which other than being absurdly catchy feels as energized as a barrel of dynamite, and comes replete with a chorus that sounds like a demented cheerleader chant. This sort of full throttle indie noise-rock is what swirls within Texis
’ chaotic, danceable, and anxiety-ridden walls, and the juxtaposition of emotions – mostly sarcastic elation masking complete and utter despair – makes the LP feel like a dance party for the end of the world. Who knows, maybe it is.
The record continues to rip through messy emotions and thrilling momentum swings as it marches onward. ‘Knowing’ plunges headfirst into a sea of club/dancefloor synths while also offering one of Sleigh Bells’ stickiest choruses before ‘Justine Go Genesis’ and ‘Tennessee Tips’ swing the pendulum back to the band’s trademark offering – a precarious balance between razor sharp electronic-rock and straight-up pop. As Sleigh Bells have always done throughout their career, though, they walk that tightrope with precision. ‘Rosary’ and ‘True Seekers’ are both slower tracks comparatively speaking, but they also feature these huge, burgeoning melodies that truly shine across Texis
’ back end. ‘Red Flag Flies’ and closer ‘Hummingbird Bomb’ are a bit more clamorous, but they’re still eclectic enough to make their own distinguishable footprints (i.e. the xylophone-esque percussion on the latter). That’s really the story of Texis
, an album so consistently raucous and uptempo that it should
get stale, but simply doesn’t through sheer creative imposition.
Simply put, Texis
is the life of the party. It’s overflowing with bona fide bangers, drawing from a seemingly endless well of synth blasts, gushing electric guitars, and Alexis Krauss’ airy, dynamic vocals. The melodies are outrageously infectious too, providing an immense dopamine rush that is impossible to resist. Detractors can write that Texis
isn’t technically anything new, and while that may indeed be the case, Sleigh Bells have not sounded this rejuvenated or fun
since they first appeared on the scene over a decade ago. Their core spirit and whatever magic it contained is back in full force, and it’s arguably more potent than ever.