Bitter Rivals - Sleigh Bells
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Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 27 Ratings

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  • Summary: The third full-length release for the Brooklyn duo includes influences from pop and R&B music with a majority of the melodies written by singer Alexis Krauss.
  • Record Label: Mom & Pop Music
  • Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Noise Pop
  • More Details and Credits »
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. 91
    It's all still loud and lovely, but with a fresh dose of dynamism. [11 Oct 2013, p.72]
  2. Nov 22, 2013
    Breathlessly current in its maxed-out production, but also properly robust, Bitter Rivals should turn Sleigh Bells into serious contenders. [Dec 2013, p.104]
  3. Oct 8, 2013
    Sleigh Bells is simultaneously at its best (and for some, its most annoying) when it taps directly and forcefully into the very heightened emotions of high school.
  4. 70
    Bitter Rivals' more diffuse nature seems to have prevented them from impressing their personality on their music in quite the same manner; it’s difficult to rate it as highly as a result, but this remains a solid effort.
  5. Bitter Rivals is their toughest and most focused work yet. It’s also their poppiest, which is very much a good thing.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

See all 27 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 5
  2. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. Dec 9, 2013
    Call this their 'Rocket to Russia.' It's Sleigh Bells' tightest and most carefully conceived record, period, a carefully honed consolidation of the first two. But anyone who says it's more of the same hasn't listened hard enough to the new abundance of sure-fire hooks (Alexis is the MVP this time around) and some damn sharp lyrics, plus fresh R&B grooves and guitar textures. Anyone who says it's unfocused and scattered has got to be kidding (shout out to Pitchfork's ridiculous review). This record isn't about the juxtaposition of pop and noise so much as it's a great integration of the two in a way that isn't awkward or clumsy in the least. For people who like their candy hard. Collapse
  2. Jan 1, 2014
    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 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.)
  3. Oct 8, 2013
    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 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? Expand
  4. Oct 8, 2013
    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. Expand
  5. Oct 13, 2013
    Dipping slightly into more 80s keyboards and more distinct vocals are the only change here. They were a great novelty band but I'm getting bored with them now. They need to better think out their next move coz this stuff is fading faster than hair-dye. Expand