Sleigh Bell’s new album, Texis, is the sound of the duo letting go of hang-ups and inhibitions and allowing themselves to embrace the sort of loud, colourful, genre-melting music only they could make. “We stopped worrying about whether or not we’re in or out of our comfort zone, or if we were being repetitive or formulaic,” says Derek Miller. After pushing themselves to sound less obviously “Sleigh Bells” on their 2017 EP Kid Kruschev, he found he’d started to reject a lot of his best creative impulses. On Texis, the duo decided to simply push the first domino and see what would happen, chasing down whatever excitement and inspiration followed; the resulting album is pure fireworks, full of the best songs Sleigh Bells have ever written and recorded.
The first domino was pushed in late 2018 when Miller sent an early demo of the track that would become “Justine Go Genesis” to Sleigh Bells singer and co-writer Alexis Krauss, feeling excited about its ultra-fast tempo but slightly self-conscious about his cartoonish, over-the-top metal riff. Krauss clicked with the music right away and wrote her bright, unabashedly poppy melody within a few hours of receiving the track, resulting in a song that sounds like the unexpected intersection of Metallica, Spice Girls, and ‘90s drum and bass. The wild maximalism of “Justine Go Genesis” opened the floodgates for the songs to come, like the exuberant cheerleader metal of “Locust Laced” and “Tennessee Tips,” which whips dramatically between thrash riffs and spacey shoegaze sections. Miller and Krauss didn’t go “back to basics” by emulating the sound of their landmark debut Treats, but they did reconnect with that record’s brash, speaker-rattling energy. The result is an album that’s the most fully actualized version of the band, merging the more refined pop craft and deeper emotional palette of their 2016 album Jessica Rabbit with the dopamine-blasting bangers of their earlier days.
One of the band’s goals in writing Texis was to infuse even the most abrasive and full-blast songs with something that made the music feel “nourishing” to them. “The thing I’m most attracted to is the juxtaposition of happy and sad, melancholy and hope,” says Miller. “A lot of this is about trying to hold on to a shred of optimism through sheer force of will, and I hope this music can give people some joyful energy and confidence.”