Sleigh Bells: Jessica Rabbit

It sounds like Sleigh Bells, but is that enough?

Let’s get straight to the point and discuss the problem with the new Sleigh Bells record right away because it’s a common issue with bands at their stage of development. Sleigh Bells' new record Jessica Rabbit is boring. Not that it isn’t loud or intense or sharp enough, just that there are few songs on here that reach out and grab you, as a fan of their work.

Great title, alright cover art and lacklustre creativity that doesn’t illuminate anything other than a tired stadium pop band content with the boom-crash percussion and the overuse of their signature guitar wail. Having listened to it quite a few times it just seems like I was listening to their 2012 debut follow-up hit Reign of Terror with just, less. Less frenetic, infectious energy, less pyrotechnics and not even compensatory improvements or innovations in structure or content of song-writing. Maybe some experimentation with pausing? It’s a long album with short songs, which potentially indicates the Brooklyn duo are focussed on quantity over quality.

Yes Jessica Rabbit has been in the works since the last album Bitter Rivals hit but didn’t really hit in 2013. That’s enough time. Many say the now over-gentrified and priced out New York suburb of Brooklyn has lost its edge during the same period of time and much could be said of other increasingly dull art coming out of this world-renowned cultural hub. Maybe that has something to do with my disappointment over Jessica Rabbit: the environment a record is made in always find its way in-between the lines.

Lyrically this album is again a series of violent and ambiguous statements about ‘you’ and ‘me’, “I Can’t Stand You Anymore,” “I Can Only Stare”, “It’s Just Us Now”. I Can Only Stare is probably the best song in a bundle of fourteen cleanly produced noise-pop tracks, passionately capturing a feeling of shock and indignation at something or other. You could only assume it’s some of that classic ironic outrage, or maybe early onset dementia brought on from all the kids these days. “It’s Just Us Now”, whispers one rock’n’roll retiree to another, “Alice Glass left Crystal Castles”.

There is quite a lot to clench tight with rage about in the land of the free and somehow this album doesn’t feel like the right enema. Jessica Rabbit appears to be a couple of well-established stadium scenesters proving that, in some sense, they still got it; Sleigh Bells going through the motions with an increasingly by-the-numbers aesthetic. We will see how this exercise in keeping up appearances translates into album sales. I really wanted to love this.

- Matt Rathaus.


Album Details

Album Title: Jessica Rabbit
Artist: Sleigh Bells
Record Label: (Sinderlyn / Remote Control)