I know, I know. You are probably thinking that a KEXP review of the new Sleigh Bells album is entirely unnecessary, but trust me. If you haven’t been listening to the album constantly on the New York Times stream, then you need to start now – especially if you weren’t a fan of their first album, Treats. Reign of Terror, the sophomore effort by the New York dance-metal band, comes from a different starting point and makes a different journey than does its predecessor. With Treats, Sleigh Bells hit you with endless waves of clipping riffs and hooks that made your equalizer look like it was celebrating the Chinese New Year. But with Reign of Terror, Sleigh Bells aren’t trying to outdo themselves. Rather, they take what they know, perfect it, then add something new.
For the new album, Derek and Alexis worked side by side. Most of Treats was written before Alexis added to the noise. But some family trauma has led to a more solemn sophomore work. Reign of Terror isn’t all party rock fun and games. In fact, on tracks like “Leader of the Pack”, “You Lost Me”, “D.O.A.”, and the title track, you’ll find some pretty fantastic lyrics. Reign of Terror is a personable album, full of struggle and distress, but also full of hope and encouragement. Who would have ever thought that these thrashing, rift-tearing guitar riffs would be topped with beautiful, relatable messages that make you think about who you are and how you relate to your friends? Other album highlights include “Comeback Kid”, “Crush”, and “End of the Line”.
All in all, Reign of Terror is without a doubt an improvement on Treats. It’s different in many ways, but it has a longer lasting appeal and a timeless message: sometimes, when you get knocked down and get blood on your Keds, you just have to get back up again and keep throwing punches. Watch the video for “Comeback Kid” below and buy the album this Tuesday, 2/21.