Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Oct 7, 2013
    60
    Ultimately, Bitter Rivals is a mish-mosh of songs: some good, some of high quality though tempered by and succumbing to poppiness, and some that shouldn’t have made the final cut.
  2. 60
    If you’ve long hoped for a more mainstream direction and always wanted to hear just how sweet a singer Krauss is, Bitter Rivals could be your favorite Sleigh Bells yet. But if you’re wishing they could’ve evolved in a way that didn’t involve quite so many ballads and especially not at the expense of what made Sleigh Bells so great, this might not be as essential as you presumed it would be.
  3. Oct 3, 2013
    60
    It's the airier, less belligerent songs that prove most memorable.
  4. Oct 8, 2013
    59
    Bitter Rivals too often feels like a cheap thrill ride, firing on all cylinders but without any grand design.
  5. Oct 10, 2013
    55
    With Bitter Rivals, Sleigh Bells haven't quite hit all the targets they're aiming for.
  6. Oct 15, 2013
    50
    While "24" might be the best song Sleigh Bells have penned to date.... The rest of the album doesn't fare so well, and like the proverbial Potemkin village, its bravado is illusory, its songs precarious, one-dimensional façades that sag under anything more than a passing listen.
  7. Oct 8, 2013
    50
    It’s the rare number not bracketed by abrasively chintzy guitar noise meant to read as “rawk,” shudder-inducing synths, and jarring percussive machinery.
  8. Oct 4, 2013
    50
    Sleigh Bells should be applauded for their attempts to move beyond their simplistic formula, but the growing pains are evident and awkward to listen to.
  9. 40
    Bitter Rivals could be explained as playing to Sleigh Bells’ strengths, but mostly it gets stuck in the weaker aspects of their previous albums, busying up the mercifully brief tracks with unnecessary filler, and definitively showing the dangers of nostalgia taken too far, with nu metal serving as a warning for pop punk, and freestyle, and whatever else might next resurface.
User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 27 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 5
  2. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. Oct 8, 2013
    7
    With Bitter Rivals, Sleigh Bells exhibit an affinity for pop music as well as 80's-era R&B. While there are still moments of glee-filled,With Bitter Rivals, Sleigh Bells exhibit an affinity for pop music as well as 80's-era R&B. While there are still moments of glee-filled, rock-out ecstasy like before, bright synths and sunny melodies are favored this time around, which will definitely divide fans (old and new). But if you are willing to accept that this is Sleigh Bells in pop territory, you will see that Bitter Rivals proves to be a catchy, energizing, and entertaining 30 minutes of pop rock bliss. Full Review »
  2. Oct 8, 2013
    7
    It's still the good ol' Sleigh Bells, and some moments on Bitter Rivals are among their best, but as an album it's as quick and pleasant as aIt's still the good ol' Sleigh Bells, and some moments on Bitter Rivals are among their best, but as an album it's as quick and pleasant as a hit in the head its flow is just too fast, songs seem to end in their middle and overall, it ends before you notice it all began. It's really fun to listen, but not very rewarding it would greatly benefit from more studio time. I know they wanted to do it fast, but was it worth it? Full Review »
  3. Jan 1, 2014
    8
    Bitter Rivals is not only a solid development in Sleigh Bells' sound, but in my opinion their best album to date. Admittedly I had my ownBitter Rivals is not only a solid development in Sleigh Bells' sound, but in my opinion their best album to date. Admittedly I had my own little problems with their first 2 albums, namely that Treats tended to bleed together from track to track & Reign of Terror (despite greatly improved songwriting) sometimes dragged out its song lengths longer than they needed to be. But on Bitter Rivals I think they basically took the best traits of both albums & mashed them together, while adding a couple new ingredients to the mix. Like Treats, the songs are extremely straightforward & to-the-point, with no time for meandering or over-repetition. But like Reign of Terror the songs individually are very well-written, with a lot of attention being paid to production & melody & even throwing in some more instrumentation in the form of synths or layered backing vocals. The title track is a pretty clear representation of what you're gonna hear, despite the awkward acoustic intro that might take a while to grow on you. Bitter Rivals is also home to a ton of catchy, bombastic, arena-ready choruses that aren't afraid of getting over-the-top in the vocal delivery, namely on “Minnie” & “Sing Like a Wire”. On the other side of the coin though, like on Reign of Terror there are some equally rewarding softer moments like on “Young Legends”, “To Hell with You” & “Love Sick” that with slightly different production could've passed as lost 80's electro-pop power ballads. There are also some of the best vocal performances & most diverse instrumentation & songwriting approaches of Sleigh Bells' discography thus far on this album. I'll admit that there are a couple tracks that didn't really do anything special for me (which is admittedly a pretty big deal for a 10-song 30-minute album) but they more blended in with the formula than anything else, and it didn't really detract from the album listen as a whole, which is a great one. They basically did what a one-style band/artist is supposed to do: keeping it similar while adding interesting new stuff here & there. If you were turned off by them before, this isn't gonna convince you otherwise. But if you're a fan of Sleigh Bells on either of the previous albums, I can't see any reason why you wouldn't like this.

    Top 5 tracks: Sing Like a Wire, Minnie, Tiger Kit, Bitter Rivals, To Hell with You
    Score: 83/100
    (For a longer more in-depth review go to my Facebook page That Non-Elitist Music Fan.)
    Full Review »