The Source

Sleigh Bells

We’re going back to the original source of inspiration for noise pop duo Sleigh Bells following the release of their third album, the distorted and heroic Bitter Rivals.

From the screeching guitar licks of ‘80s hair metal bands to the gloss of r&b songstresses – Brooklyn’s Sleigh Bells have always touted their distorted agenda as an amalgam of various genres and inspirations. Since their breakthrough in 2010 with their debut LP Treats, the combination of singer Alexis Krauss and producer/guitarist Derek Miller created a particularly unique sound, something that simply couldn’t be ignored.

With the recent drop of Bitter Rivals, their biggest and most convincing album to date, the duo call back to the days of sugary sweet girl groups and ‘80s teen movies, each having a powerful influence on Sleigh Bells' iconic sound.

Read the full article on FasterLouder.

“Bitter Rivals is the band’s biggest ode to mainstream music yet.”

“Like so many kids raised in the ’80s, Miller and Krauss adore the sheer earnestness of that decade’s pop culture.”

Sleigh Bells
Sleigh Bells
Rap Production

First, those beats. Those big, stamping, monster beats that lodged Sleigh Bells firmly in the stadium when they were still fairly underground. Overblown rap production was key to the duo from the start, with producer/guitarist Derek Miller crediting that in-the-red harshness to his “shitty, bottom-of-the-line beat stations” instead of some attempt at no-fi supremacy. But it’s notable that Miller and singer Alexis Krauss didn’t clean up that smashed-boombox sound too much between their self-released 2009 EP and 2010’s high-profile debut LP Treats.

Hair Metal

Just as integral as those beats are Miller’s screeching guitar licks, which he honed while playing in post-hardcore band Poison the Well. Often they’re pointed and over-the-top, with the outsized immediacy of ’80s hair-metal bands. In a Rolling Stone interview around Reign of Terror, Krauss cited the influence of Def Leppard. “We’re comfortable saying we like certain bands that may not be the most popular among music critics. Like Def Leppard: critically I don’t think they’re that well respected, but they were a super huge reference for this record.”

Girl Groups

Bitter Rivals is the band’s biggest ode to mainstream music yet, channelling sugary Spice Girls and J-Pop more than the first two albums’ cooed R&B. But girl groups of all stripes play into the Sleigh Bells sound:Reign of Terror’s ‘Leader of the Pack’ takes its name from a Shangri-La’s classic, for starters. Treats used that eternal teen-girl imagery in both its album cover’s cheerleaders and in Krauss’ peppy delivery. As damaged as ‘Straight A’s’ is sonically, she sounds like one of those same cheerleaders, struggling to make herself heard over the metal band practising next door.

Eighties Movies

When interviewed on the back of Reign of Terror, Krauss was all too open about the influence of movies from her and Miller’s youth. She tied ‘Never Say Die’ to The Goonies (quoth little Mikey: “Goonies never say die!”), ‘D.O.A.’ to Poltergeist and the archetype-shuffling video for ‘Comeback Kid’ to The Breakfast Club. Like so many kids raised in the ’80s, Miller and Krauss adore the sheer earnestness of that decade’s pop culture. And anyone who grew up with MTV knows that the pop-star dream isn’t complete until you wind up on-screen, whether it’s television or the cinema – or, these days, a laptop or smartphone.

Read the full article on FasterLouder.



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Article by Doug Wallen for Stoli Australia



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