Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Sleigh Bells / Kites & Flags / Drunk Granny Tuesday 25th May @ The Louisiana, Bristol

It isn’t Drunk Granny's day. Drummer Edie Pain has spent the afternoon vomiting and guitarist Debi Withers gets electrocuted twice in the first three songs. If Young Ones-style calamity explains their stilted performance it's no excuse for material so thinly sketched it might have been written in a free period between P.E and double Maths. Still, there's knockabout relief to be enjoyed in closing number Big Hairy Lesbian Sex Beasts, whose two minutes of angry grunting are the closest this duo get to an articulate statement.

Competence isn't an issue for Kites & Flags - they're studio-slick. Their bitcrushed synths and dub effects suggest fingers on the pulse but the songs are more Crowded House than Electro-House. While the indie-dance moments are well executed enough the two-piece are at their most affecting when their rich vocal harmonies and arpeggiated guitars are allowed to breathe. It’s then that these traditional pop-rock craftsmen are revealed beneath their hipster clothing.

Brooklyn's Sleigh Bells are hair-raisingly intense. In almost total darkness they unleash a pincer movement of disarming art-pop and pulverizing industrial hardcore. Derek Miller’s guitar throws fierce, atonal squawks and slamming power chords at a backdrop of psychotic disco beats and booty-troubling bass. Singer Alexis Krauss moves so relentlessly she defies the Second Law of Thermodynamics and her vocals are no less dramatic. Incendiary punk-rap verses give way to operatic hooks - placing Sleigh Bells in a lineage of infectiously mannered pop from Sparks to Kelis.

Extracting honey-coated violence from new wave, metal, rave, R&B and all styles between, songs like Infinity Guitars and Treats are as refreshing as anything you’ll hear in 2010. Sleigh Bells are what happens when two people inhale the last 35 years of radical sounds and blow the whole lot in your face.

This review originally appeared in Venue Magazine
Alexis Krauss photographed by Ellen Doherty

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