Sleigh Bells Returns With ‘Rule Number One’

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Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells, 2015.

Sleigh Bells is back, and just in time for the season of heat. Since releasing three brief, thunderous, sweetly abrasive albums between 2010 and 2013, the noise-pop duo of Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller have put out next to no new music, but as today’s self-released single “Rule Number One” demonstrates, they’ve hardly been silent, let alone stagnant. The band has always been justly renowned for splicing genres together; their new song sounds like two or three separate songs, each with a distinct rhythm, melody, and volume, set at strange yet somehow un-awkward angles to one another. The overall effect is as visceral as ever yet complemented by a sense of abstraction, an effect enhanced by Krauss’s lyrics: No sooner is she done with blow-it-up cries like “Pop rocks and coke make your head explode” does she shift to a more distant and allusive register:

From the field I can see you in the stands:

Drinking lemonade, spinning like a ceiling fan.

So haunting, so confusing;

Ice cream is goose, Linus and Lucy.

Between the lemonade and ice cream and a reference elsewhere to twin tornadoes in Kansas, it’s clear that the season for the song is, indeed, summer. (Kudos, too, for timing the release on a Tuesday to match the mention of “Tuesdays” in the lyrics.)

To hear the band members speak, the track marks the beginning of a new era. “I don’t want to use the word breakthrough, it’s a little corny, but it was a moment for us, where we realized that we kind of found this new thing,” Miller remarked in an interview today with Zane Lowe on Beats 1. “It definitely marked a shift in the vocal approach,” said Krauss in the same interview. “This song is very manic, and I think the vocal reflects that sort of flux, the sweetness but also the sort of chaos of the instrumental.” An album may or may not be on the way: According to Miller, though Sleigh Bells already has enough material for a full-length release, the duo is still experimenting with new, improved approaches and angles of attack. But however long the ultimate duration of the gap between their last and next albums ends up being, “Rule Number One” is already a strong indicator that the wait for a new Sleigh Bells collection will be worth it.