ALBUM REVIEW: Sleigh Bells Sadly Don't Slay on "Jessica Rabbit"
Brooklyn noise pop duo Sleigh Bells offered a winning formula of banging electronic beats, punishing guitars and cheerleader-esque vocals on their epochal 2010 record Treats, a sound they tweaked to great effect on 2012’s nuanced, highly personal follow-up Reign of Terror. These two albums are definitive Sleigh Bells, and the duo failed to reach the same high standard on 2013’s Bitter Rivals. Sadly, Jessica Rabbit follows in this stale path, offering a hodgepodge of ideas with little bite and commitment.
The album gets off to a sour start with opener “It’s Just Us Now”, featuring a messy verse-to-chorus transition that makes my ears bleed- and not in the way they surely intended. Next, “Torn Clean” breezes by with little event. From there, the album remains incoherent and directionless. Too many songs are so overstuffed with scattershot ideas and incompatible sounds that they become unlistenable, like the indicatively titled “I Can’t Stand You Anymore” and closer “As If”.
Not to say the album is without its redemptive moments. Tracks like “Baptism By Fire” and “Hyper Dark” succeed by being largely focused and cohesive, contrasting with the more erratic tracks that fail to impress. Alexis Krauss’ vocal delivery is perhaps the only consistent element of the haphazard arrangements, breathing some personality into the forced instrumentation, but even she offers little in the way of hooks.
Overall, Jessica Rabbit is sorely lacking the effortless, charismatic cool the duo displayed on previous releases. It sounds like a band that’s lacking in direction, instead throwing everything into the mix but failing to produce a singular or even unique result. Jessica Rabbit manages to achieve the unthinkable… It makes you wish Sleigh Bells would just turn it down a notch.