Shred-pop pioneers Sleigh Bells learn to thread the past with the present | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Shred-pop pioneers Sleigh Bells learn to thread the past with the present 

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click to enlarge Sleigh Bells

Sleigh Bells

courtesy the artist

Update: Sleigh Bells have canceled due to illness.

After building a reputation as the world’s first great shred-pop standard-bearers—bolstered by hardcore-breakdown guitar riffs that sonically resemble something close to a New Year’s Eve glitter bomb—the duo of vocalist Alexis Krauss and guitarist Derek Miller went outside their element for their fourth full-length record, 2016’s Jessica Rabbit. The results were mixed. While Sleigh Bells’ early party songs were fun, simple, and complemented a great deal by Krauss and Miller’s leather-jacket-and-black-sunglasses cool, with Jessica Rabbit they struggled to find a middle ground between the allure of their first few albums and their desire to mature past their candy-coated sound; it often feels too stilted, and sometimes too meandering. But last year’s mini album Kid Kruschev (Torn Clean) is proof that they’re figuring it out. Featuring more seething dark-electro elements than before and smartly relying on Krauss’s charm and talent, Kid Kruschev is much (much) tighter than its predecessor. It’s a step forward for Sleigh Bells without being neglectful of where they came from—as evidenced by a solid, thrumming single like “Rainmaker.” What’s remained unchanged is that the band is still a commanding force onstage.   v

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