Home Read Albums Of The Week: Sleigh Bells | Texis

Albums Of The Week: Sleigh Bells | Texis

The dynamic duo's latest is a freaky Frankenstein's monster of sounds & styles.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Texis is the sixth album from Sleigh Bells — producer/guitarist Derek Miller and singer Alexis Krauss — and delivers more of the controlled chaos that has made them one of the most exciting bands of the last decade.

Actually, it’s been 12 years since Sleigh Bells burst into the public consciousness, emerging fully formed from tiny New York City venues onto the global stage with a sound entirely their own. Over four incredible full-length albums and one EP, Miller and Krauss have shaken up independent music; the duo were among the first to fully integrate the now-ubiquitous sounds of pop radio and hip-hop into their guitar-based melodies. They’ve opened for everyone from LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip to Pixies and Weezer. They’ve played Saturday Night Live and Later…with Jools Holland. Their sound has been borrowed by countless pop producers looking to give their tracks some much-needed edge. They’ve been championed by everyone from Spike Jonze to Reed Morano to Sofia Coppola, their songs providing the perfect aural complement to films and TV shows around the world.

Texis is the sound of the duo letting go of hangups and inhibitions and allowing themselves to embrace the sort of loud, colorful, genre-melting music only they could make. “We stopped worrying about whether or not we’re in or out of our comfort zone, or if we were being repetitive or formulaic,” says Miller. After pushing themselves to sound less obviously Sleigh Bells on their 2017 EP Kid Kruschev, he found he’d started to reject a lot of his best creative impulses. On Texis, the duo decided to simply push the first domino and see what would happen, chasing down whatever excitement and inspiration followed; the resulting album is pure fireworks, full of the best songs Sleigh Bells have ever written and recorded.

Photo by Chris Vultaggio.

The first domino was pushed in late 2018 when Miller sent an early demo of the track that would become Justine Go Genesis to singer and co-writer Krauss, feeling excited about its ultra-fast tempo but slightly self-conscious about his cartoonish, over-the-top metal riff. Krauss clicked with the music right away and wrote her bright, unabashedly poppy melody within a few hours of receiving the track, resulting in a song that sounds like the unexpected intersection of Metallica, Spice Girls and ’90s drum and bass. The wild maximalism of Justine Go Genesis opened the floodgates for the songs to come, like the exuberant cheerleader metal of Locust Laced and Tennessee Tips, which whips dramatically between thrash riffs and spacey shoegaze sections. Miller and Krauss didn’t go “back to basics” by emulating the sound of their landmark debut Treats, but they did reconnect with that record’s brash, speaker-rattling energy. The result is an album that’s the most fully actualized version of the band, merging the more refined pop craft and deeper emotional palette of their 2016 album Jessica Rabbit with the dopamine-blasting bangers of their earlier days.

One of the band’s goals in writing Texis was to infuse even the most abrasive and full-blast songs with something that made the music feel “nourishing” to them. “The thing I’m most attracted to is the juxtaposition of happy and sad, melancholy and hope,” says Miller. “A lot of this is about trying to hold on to a shred of optimism through sheer force of will, and I hope this music can give people some joyful energy and confidence.”