As odd as it sounds, the idea of “you’ve gotta see them live to get it” makes some kind of sense. It’s not as if they’re going to play covers you like more than their own songs, after all, but it’s worth giving it a go, especially when a band releases a flawless bump’n’thrash hip-pop record and follow it with something slower, less exciting and ultimately a bit disappointing. Perhaps the more down tempo tracks that make up Sleigh Bells’ ‘Reign of Terror’ LP will fly in a dark, busy venue.
The opening ‘True Shred Guitar’ – sounding like a meatier, less-ridiculous ‘Paradise City’ and fitting Alice Krauss’ studded leather jacket – makes a good go of it, as does the following cursed black nursery rhyme of ‘Born To Lose’. Now with a second guitarist and a bank of Marshall stack amps behind them (very Justice), Sleigh Bells have never sounded louder or hungrier, Krauss still a tornado of raven hair and tattooed arms, regardless of the notable drop in BPM. But then we hear a chunk of the band’s gnarled debut, ‘Treats’, interspersed with the rest of album number two, none of which (with the exception of ‘Comeback Kid’, which lands flatter than expected with this on-side crowd) is close to the opening numbers. By the end, it’s confirmed that Sleigh Bells are still a hell of a live band, but there’s no denying that they are currently touring a duller set than that of 2010.
By Stuart Stubbs
Originally published in issue 36 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. March 2012