Sound — 8
The third studio album by Sleigh Bells, "Bitter Rivals" contains 10 tracks and clocks in at just under 30 minutes. The lead single from the album is the title track which was released in September 2013. The album also starts out with the title track, "Bitter Rivals," which starts with a simple acoustic riff, snapping fingers and some vocal sound but quickly builds to a fairly aggressive track with the lyrics "It was the best of times/ it was the worst of times/ I had to kill the new sheriff in town." The next track from the album, "Sugarcane," sounds a little like a previous song relelased by the group initially, but soon builds its own identity with a simple yet infectious guitar riff with a divebomb. "Minnie" has an almost classic rock riff in the intro but when some extreme percussion and the vocals come in I found myself tapping my foot and nodding my head along. There is also some truly weird passages in this song that I'm not even going to try to describe. The song "Sing Like a Wire" starts out with some percussion and some kind of synth and some breathy vocals by Alexis, but when the guitar comes in the song gets really heavy with a disjointed riff. The track "Young Legends" starts out with an acoustic guitar and some HEAVILY processed sounds that I think are vocals and then the normal vocals come in, and this actually sounds pretty close to a traditional song for something created by Sleigh Bells. "Tiger Kit" starts out with Derek playing through what sounds like a small practice amp, but when the drum comes in he's running through a real amp again. There are some sampled sounds used in the song for the rhythm. The song "You Don't Get Me Twice" has a similar intro to "Bitter Rivals," and my favorite guitar part with an interesting riff for part of the song and a pretty clean guitar part that is used for some parts. "To Hell With You" actually uses some synthesized dog barking as part of the song, which for some reason cracked me up. The vocals on this song are seriously some pop vocals and lyrics, but the instrumentation provided by Derek makes all the difference. The track "24" has the feel of the last album, though it doesn't necessarily sound like any of those songs, it just has the same vibe. The chord progression on this one felt really unusual. It has some really odd passages towards the end of the track. The album closes out with the track "Love Sick," and has some really weird lyrics going on. It makes a good ending to the album, and feels to me like a promise of more of Sleigh Bells weird variety of noise pop in the future.
Lyrics — 8
Alexis Krauss has a really great voice, but I'm sure nobody who knew her guessed she would be involved with a project like Sleigh Bells before she joined up. She was initially a member of a teen pop group until she was 16, and only became a member of Sleigh Bells after a chance encounter with Derek at his day job as a waiter. She does a great job on this album; since their first release it seems she has grown more adventurous on how she uses her voice in the context of the band. Nothing but good things to say about her voice. As a sample of the lyrics, here are some from the title track, "Bitter Rivals": "It was the best of times/ it was the worst of times/ I had to kill the new sheriff in town/ she was gonna try to keep me/ you go-go down/ you go-go down/ in a dream you will never be down/ some how, some how/ another way to make the picture clearer/ point a gun/ at the mirror/ hearts so dark, make dirt look clean." I like the surreal quality to most of their lyrics.
Overall Impression — 8
Since their last album, I've been awaiting this release by Sleigh Bells. I think what they're doing is unique, and while not necessarily for everybody I can really stand behind it. I felt like the production on the album was a lot better than their previous releases, which really added something the band needed. My favorite tracks from the album was the title track, "Bitter Rivals," as well as "Minnie," "Young Legends" and "You Don't Get Me Twice." I think this album at least stands up to their previous efforts, if it doesn't eclipse them.