Sleigh Bells: Texis (Mom + Pop) - review | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, September 16th, 2021  

Sleigh Bells

Texis

Mom + Pop

Sep 09, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Eleven years ago, indie noise pop prophets Sleigh Bells managed to transcend the indelible scarlet letter of monotonous Brooklynite hipsterdom upon the release of their acclaimed debut Treats.

What ultimately prevented the untimely sealing of Sleigh Bells’ youthful fate all those years ago was the biting humor and sincere morbidity of dynamic frontwoman Alexis Krauss, whose unassuming, sugary delivery of lines such as “Six such straight A’s/Cut ‘em in the bathroom”—on 2010’s occult-tinged youth anthem “Rill Rill”—helped set the atmosphere of a modern pop experience unlike any other.

On Texis, Sleigh Bells’ fifth album and first full-length release since their 2016 high-water mark Jessica Rabbit, Krauss and guitarist Derek Miller return for another round of deafening ferocity in the guise of carefree, synth-ridden indie dream pop, underscored with crunchy trip hop beats and arena rock echoes.

In the case of Texis, however, the faded neon mustiness of recently unearthed ’80s and ’90s Happy Meal prizes still hangs as heavily as it does on Treats and the subsequent Reign of Terror. Krauss and Miller maintain their retro dusty attic fixations, but the hard rock-driven gloss of 2013’s so-so Bitter Rivals and the aforementioned triumphant Jessica Rabbit prevail here.

“Here we go, here we go/You’re legitimate rock and roll,” Krauss declares on dance-worthy opener “SWEET75,” kicking the album off in a frenzied rush, before eventually circling back to ironically inquire, “Aren’t you a little too old for rock and roll?” A possible reference to their role as indie rock elder statesmen from another place in time—perhaps a studio apartment in urban coastal America, circa 2008/2009—the sentiment of the album’s opening track feels tongue-in-cheek and bittersweet, which works well on Krauss and Miller as they carry on to the subsequent “An Acre Lost,” where Krauss channels her inner alt popstar, singing in earnest, “Don’t kid yourself/Don’t kid anyone else.”

Tracks which appear on the verge of monotony, and leave the listener expecting more than was offered, as on “I’m Not Down” or “Red Flag Flies,” are quickly forgotten in the face of songs such as lead single “Locust Laced.” On the track in question, Miller proves successfully that, at his strongest, he can still shred alongside the best of them, while Krauss can still muster enough facetious enthusiasm to declare “I feel like dynamite” in the same three-minute span during which she batters her face against a prop brick wall, as in the “Locust Laced” video.

Other highlights of Texis include the wide-eyed “Knowing” and irresistible “Tennessee Tips,” on which the duo display a deal of artistic maturity found only on Jessica Rabbit. Elsewhere, the peculiar intimacy of “Rosary,” on which Krauss sings her heart out in a rare display of personal vulnerability, cuts deep. Krauss and Miller also reach new emotional heights on “True Seekers,” which is easily one of Sleigh Bells’ most stirring tracks, resembling, somewhat, 2012’s equally subdued ode to melancholy introspection “End of the Line.”

While not necessarily new territory for the band, Texis offers much worth loving, and is not so much a step back, as it is, perhaps, an awkward stumble to one side. Clearly the duo have not yet abandoned the great hills from which they have been mining musical gold for over a decade. (www.facebook.com/sleighbells)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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