What strikes me most about the new album from Sleigh Bells isn’t the misspelled title, or the slightly creepy, blank expression of the woman on the cover. No, it’s the change in sound. Listen carefully to debut single “Locust Laced.” There’s a tautness there that wasn’t there before. It’s courtesy of an electronic beat that underscores their signature blast of guitar, tempered with Alexis Krauss’s vocals. I’m not sure I’m a huge fan; I really liked the rough-hewn edges of Treats and Reign of Terror.
That tautness is used to better effect in “SWEET75,” which despite an opening that’s reminiscent of a video game soundtrack is one of the best on the album. Here, Krauss’s voice stands strong; it’s an equal counterpoint to Derek Miller’s guitar rather than a layer to it.
Her voice fits the lyrical themes of Texis, which cover familiar Sleigh Bells ground: outcasts (“tough kids with high IQs”) and a vintage feel (“You’re legitimate rock and roll”). Some of the lyrics, however, are so much of a stretch that they’re confusing. See “Justine Go Genesis,” a mouthful of a tile that features the bridge, “My main man, Mary Anne is holding my hand.” Try saying that three times fast!
Overall, it’s not the duo’s strongest release. I do applaud them for trying something new, and for exploring electronic music to stay current. However, the execution doesn’t quite work – at least not for me.
My rating? 3/5.