Sleigh Bells New Single: Is This Like Post-Ironic Hair Metal?



sleighbellsvideoI first became aware of Sleigh Bells about five years ago when the song “Rill Rill” knocked me upside the head. What a great vibe it had, I couldn’t stop playing it. It was like a surgical fusion of M.I.A.’s 2009 street classic “Paper Planes”, with Alive and Kicking’s outstanding rockin’ soul hit from 1970 “Tighter, Tighter”. On paper it looks like an unlikely combination, but Sleigh Bells somehow cloned the two songs perfectly.

As it turned out, “Rill Rill” was a bit of an anomaly for Sleigh Bells. Their sound is typically much harder than that. Vocalist Alexis Krauss and guitarist Derek Miller have been collaborating for years developing what sounds to me like a new kind of rock, or power pop, or whatever useless label you can throw at it. Combining an electronica pop sensibility with grungy guitar power chords in a pretty unique way, it’s a new something.

So on their new album Jessica Rabbit scheduled for release on November 11, Sleigh Bells seem to be doubling down on their power formula, and the results are fascinating to say the least.

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Check out their video released this week, “It’s Just Us Now”. There’s a lot going on here. First of all you’ve got these beautiful fuzz-tone power chords reminiscent of 1980s hair metal. But instead of the plodding 4/4 swill those bands churned out, Sleigh Bells challenges the listener by taking syncopation to extreme levels. Rhythms explode and implode, creating a sense of tightly coiled tension through powerful and seemingly irregular beats.

And then there’s the song’s melodramatic content and video: “And when you die / I wanna die with you / And lay us down for good”. This is exactly the kind of pomposity you’d expect to find from those old metal bands, but don’t fall for it. This is 2016, the era of post-irony, and if I’m not mistaken, I believe we are supposed to smile knowingly at Alexis Krauss’ histrionics in the video.

But who knows for sure? I think I badly sprained my irony detector again watching this one a couple of times. One thing I do know for sure – this song Rocks, and it Rocks hard.

 

 

 

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