Brooklyn noise-pop duo still looking to push boundaries on fourth LP
When singer Alexis Krauss and guitarist/producer Derek Miller debuted with Treats in 2010, the album felt aptly named. The record was chock full of sugary, fuzz-pop singles that seemed to come prepackaged with fist pumps and pogo jumps. Other bands may have previously tried combining hair-metal and punk-rock guitars with club-ready, electro-pop beats, but they never made it sound quite as fun as Krauss and Miller, who seemed to channel the spirit of Toni Basil's “Mickey” into ultra-modern noise-pop.
On last year's Jessica Rabbit, the duo's fourth album, Sleigh Bells sounds as ambitious as ever, but often the jarring digressions threaded throughout the 14 songs feel randomly inserted instead of intentionally crafted. Even though the album finds Krauss tapping into her soulful center to become a vocal powerhouse, it's still a disorienting and sometimes frustrating listen.
Certain songs, like the surprisingly acoustic-driven “I Know Not to Count on You,” are welcome diversions, and “Rule Number One” retains some of that early Sleigh Bells charm. But taken as a whole, Jessica Rabbit comes off like a half-finished jigsaw puzzle sitting on the dining room table in a mess of bread crumbs and wine-glass rings. (Think twice)