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Aural Pleasure Review

Sleigh Bells: 'Reign of Terror'

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Several of the bands that grabbed critical attention with the sugary-pop-through-blown-speakers aesthetic popular a few years back (Wavves, Dum Dum Girls) managed to remain relevant by totally not doing that shit anymore. By dropping the static, they maintained novelty: "Oh, hey, there are actual songs under there," impressed critics proclaimed. Sleigh Bells — a special case thanks to their 808 beats, heavier guitar lines, and cheerleader chants — did it with Terror, except for when they do the exact opposite. Opener "True Shred Guitar" cleverly uses studio trickery to make a go-nowhere track sound like an unlistenable live bootleg recording of itself. Lead single "Born to Lose" features about three too many vocal layers atop a White-Stripes-meets-some-kid-screwing-around-with-the-drum-buttons-on-a-Casio-keyboard backing track. "Crush" sounds like those two songs stacked on top of each other, too busy for even these multi-tab-browser ADHD times. Unfortunately, when Sleigh Bells ease up on the multi-track, the result is just as often an even Bloodier Valentine-ier (and less interesting) version of the School of Seven Bells sound (as on "Leader of the Pack" and "End of the Line"). At their best ("Demons," "Never Say Die"), Sleigh Bells sounds like a dance remix of an unreleased Toni Basil/Queensrÿche collaboration, which is better than it sounds, probably.

★★ ½ (out of 5 stars)

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