10 Best Sleigh Bells Songs
Sleigh Bells aren't exactly known for their musical restraint, and in today's oft-mundane musical landscape, that's reason to love 'em. Embracing heavy metal posturing and synthy excess, the duo has released three studio albums -- the latest, 'Bitter Rivals,' arrived today (Oct. 8) -- and while they've only been around for about five years, Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss rock like they have every intention of sticking around. Scroll down to read our picks for the 10 Best Sleigh Bells Songs. And get out your spirit fingers: This Brooklyn band is ready to take you to the world's weirdest pep rally.
Wistfulness in a Sleigh Bells tune? You might not have known they had it in them, but on this 'Reign of Terror' track, No. 10 on our list of the 10 Best Sleigh Bells Songs, the group delivers equal doses of pensiveness and shrewdness. It's either a breakup hymn or a sly ode to despair. Either way, it rules.
Talk about an about-face. Listeners that think this a one-note band would do well to check out the lead single from 'Bitter Rivals.' In terms of pop appeal, this one's light years ahead of most of their other material, but the Bells still give a knowing wink to fans and never betray their trademark sound.
In many ways, 'Infinity Guitars' is the epitome of what Sleigh Bells do best: marry heavy riffs to catchy chants and somehow avoid having it seem contrived. They unrepentantly keep up the ever-present pep, but as is often the case, they also dare listeners not to take them seriously.
More proof of their fondness for six-strings, 'True Shred Guitar,' the opening track from 'Reign of Terror,' starts with a simple extolling of the crowd and abruptly breaks off to commands shouted in the form of chants. But it also exemplifies the band's knack for combining sinister and playful elements to create a sound and feel that are cohesive and totally unique.
If New Age crooner Enya ever decides to lean a little bit goth (which would be better entertainment than anything imaginable), it might sound something like No. 6 on our list of the 10 Best Sleigh Bells Songs. Alexis' breathy voice juxtaposed with lyrics extolling the route to Hades offers an off-the-wall one-two punch.
By Sleigh Bells' standards, 'Rill Rill' is practically sedate. Of course, that's a relative term, and this one includes everything from snapping to undulating background vocals. It seems sweet enough, with its repeated "have a heart" chorus, but in true Sleigh Bells style, it quickly slides into more insidious territory. (Sample lyrics: "cut 'em in the bathroom," "we could fist fight drunk like the parent trap.") Not many bands could pull off the borderline bait-and-switch, but you better believe Sleigh Bells can.
Sometimes your schoolyard (or grown-up) crush just needs a powerhouse chant-style theme song. Continuing their "cheerleader-meets-metal" leitmotif on 2012's 'Reign of Terror,' 'Crush' finds the pair shouting and handclapping its way through an edgy imaginary pep rally. But of course, in classic Sleigh Bells fashion, lines like "I gotta crush you now" and "Who you gonna run to now" suggest something a tad darker than a simple ode to infatuation. (And if it sounds familiar, it probably is -- this song has been played on TV incessantly since it was featured in a Victoria's Secret commercial.)
The opening track off Sleigh Bells' 2010 debut album gives listeners a good sense of what they're in for: unapologetic rapid-fire delivery, a deep love of the drum machine, crunchy riffs and a deadpan delivery. 'Tell Em' references everything from champagne to cocaine, and in addition to neatly embodying the sound of the band, it sends a message to listeners: If you're along for the ride, you've got to be in for zero shame.
"I had to kill the new sheriff in town," Krauss asserts on the title track of 'Bitter Rivals.' Talk about murdering the competition. Whether they're referring to rival school gangs or alluding to musical challengers, Sleigh Bells are back in their usual form here, and that's good news for their faithful. Either way, the ambiguity works in their favor, giving listeners an orchestrated, skillfully arranged kick in the pants.
In a perfect world, Miller and Krauss would take a time machine back to 1982 and convince the makers of 'Rocky III' to replace 'Eye of the Tiger' with 'Comeback Kid' on the official soundtrack. On the surface, No. 1 on our list of the 10 Best Sleigh Bells Songs is the quintessential fighter's elegy and a straightforward survivor's anthem. But with sinister lyrics like "go get your gun ready," it's hardly a lightweight tribute to marathon training.