Sleigh Bells: Reign of Terror (Mom+Pop) 

Sleigh Bells' debut was gimmicky, and I say that with no malice.

What's wrong with a little bit of Barnum and Bailey-style showmanship? What's wrong with sequins and tassels? What the hell, after all, is wrong with trying to draw a crowd? Treats (2010) was a sequined carnival-barker's outburst. It took a big idea, wrapped it in showy production, and jammed it the fuck down our throats. I admire the chutzpah. But who expects to be playing Treats in 2020? Or 2013?

Now along comes Reign of Terror—and it's a really good record, with good songs! Indie-darling bands that ride in on the back of a gimmick tend to fade into irrelevance rather quickly. Scissor Sisters, anyone? Cansei de Ser Sexy? Bonde do Rolê? Um ... Salem? (It may be too soon to tell on that one.)

But Reign of Terror harnesses the snotty, noise-fucky intensity of Treats and channels it, as if the great '90s shoegazers Lush time-traveled to today, ate a hearty electroclash breakfast, washed it down with a frothy pint of Beach House, and sweated out a record.

"Comeback Kid" takes the band's quadruple-kick-pedal mania and uses it to give us a lovely sort-of ballad. "Crush" takes one of Treats' silliest tropes (the dance-brat cheerleader chanting lifted straight out of Kathleen Hanna's toolbox) and frames it intelligently. "End of the Line" takes Mark Robinson's late-Unrest pop sensibility and spins it into amphetamine cotton candy. This record's great fun.

More by Sean Bottai


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