Album Review: Sleigh Bells’ Kid Kruschev

On November 10, Sleigh Bells duo Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller released the new seven-track album, Kid Kruschev. This 21-minute-long album comes a year after the 2016 release of Jessica Rabbit, and features a refreshed take on Sleigh Bells’ signature noise pop sound.

The first track of the album, “Blue Trash Mattress Fire,” has already risen in popularity with Sleigh Bells fans. This song is the longest of the seven, and sets the tone of the album as a reaction to the current sociopolitical climate, on both personal and general levels. “Blue Trash” starts soft, repeating a tranquil riff over indistinguishable echoes of Krauss’ voice, then begins to circulate in increasing speed before a soul-demolishing scream of the guitar from Miller.

With this loud crunch of noise that harkens back to 2010’s Treats comes another line of hauntingly memorable lyrics that Sleigh Bells is notorious for as Krauss sings, “I used to drink gasoline in the morning / And the middle of the day on the trampoline.” The rhythms continue to grow and “Blue Trash” threatens to blast out your eardrums, as Krauss keeps singing of dark themes like suicide, anxiety, and “casual hatred,” never making a direct mention of politics, but alluding to it in the lyrics, “White trash, blue flame / Blue trash, red rage.”

Where “Blue Trash” is probably the most similar to the Sleigh Bells of Treats, the closing song of Kid Kruschev, “And Saints,” is the most different, marking a stylistic transition for the group. For about a year now, musicians across several genres have responded to the recent series of dramatic political events, giving the music industry at large a more angst-filled and rebellious voice. However, this same voice has always been the signature sound of Sleigh Bells, accenting the sharpest lyrics of Krauss with the loudest guitar wails from Miller.

“And Saints” gives us Sleigh Bells in one of their most sonically calm states yet. Again, a simple riff from Miller pulses throughout the song, subtly giving power to lyrics about personal anxiety from Krauss. The straightforward words, “My mom keeps calling me / My friends keep texting me,” and “Delivery guy wants to know if I’m okay / Nah, man, but thanks,” resonate with everyone else who is currently not okay.

Krauss clings to abstract ideas for comfort in the words “Temple throb, dust lakes / Black gold, tigers and saints,” and struggles between seeing herself as a “shell of a man” or a “hell of a man.” This back-and-forth mirrors the struggle to cope with the seemingly eternal hatred and violence of our time.

When most bands evolved their style into more unsettling noise pop as a reaction to current affairs, Sleigh Bells had to respond with their own evolution from this same style that was every other band’s goal. The product of this is Kid Kruschev, an album that makes you panic and cry in the chaos of its sound, but comforts you in the community of its lyrics, reminding us all that no one is okay, and it’s perfectly fine to scream about it every now and then.

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