It's become almost impossible of late to keep up with the amount of hyped-up boy/girl duos that are cranking out loud guitars, but Sleigh Bells offer something different to that genre. Something very different.
Coming out of New York, Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss capture the deafening, eclectic roar of that most famous city on this, their debut album, and it opens with such a noise on first track 'Tell 'Em' that it seems designed to announce their arrival.
Its bomb tracks and air raid sirens lead to Krauss' semi-rapped vocals about all the kids in the neighborhood and the repeated refrain "did you do your best today?". Already two things are clear about Sleigh Bells: volume is key and labels are useless.
Reinforcing that point are the crashing drums of 'In The Air Tonight', like you've never heard them before, followed by screaming guitars and Alexis' catchy chant submerged as though coming through a bullhorn under water. The guitars get dirtier as the vocal gets more angelic. 'Riot Rhythm' is a great example - the title says it all.
Next up is the brilliantly titled 'Infinity Guitars', one of the highlights of the album. It's the closest we've strayed yet to Big Rock Guitars and the lyrics are full of captivating images of dumb whores, cowboys and Indians, shouted as opposed to sung. The crunching guitars continue until, out of nowhere, the whole thing opens up into an ear-splitting, speaker-shredding crash of noise that makes anyone listening wonder 'how are they doing this?!'. Infinity guitars, indeed.
Brief respite comes in the form of the more gentle 'Run The Heart', which encapsulates a pulsing beat with soft, breezy "aahh aaaahh's' sprinkled over the top. Not even half way through and already the album's range of colour and scope of ideas is dizzying. Breathy vocals open the beautifully sung 'Rachel', which injects an air of melancholy into proceedings and the nagging sense that it sounds like something from a bygone golden era, even though it's completely new.
'Rill Rill' is a summer song if ever there was such a thing; warm, lilting sounds with a Byrdsian jangle and lush vocals about being 16; "You're just a weatherman, we make the wind blow." It feels like a love letter to youth, which is what this album is all about. It's the quintessential parent baiting album and they'll tell you it's not music. Don't listen to them.
'Crown On The Ground' is another colossal highlight. Its 80s B-Boy sounds smashing into Sonic Youth; the vocals are buried somewhere beneath the resulting racket. The song moves like a tank over everything in its path until the chanted title rises and rises into the music until it becomes one with the guitars and it's impossible to distinguish one from the other. Truly brilliant.
The title track rounds things off nicely, all menace and light and a Classic Rock Riff positively cranked out. As it whirrs to a close it leaves the head wondering what the ears have just fed it, moving over that blur and pressing play again to try and take it all in. During these drab days of bland 20-somethings masquerading as pop stars, desperate to win televised karaoke competitions, Sleigh Bells are a Godsend. Did you do your best today? Sleigh Bells certainly have.