Bitter Rivals

Sleigh Bells - Bitter Rivals
Critic Score
Based on 27 reviews
2013 Ratings: #708 / 1080
User Score
Based on 96 ratings
2013 Ratings: #302
October 8, 2013 / Release Date
LP / Format
Mom + Pop / Label
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Of course, the group’s bread-and-butter is still in writing catchy, noisy guitar-based pop songs with a distinct electronic edge, and there’s plenty of that to go around on the album, but the duo is also adept at recognizing when to pepper in moments of contrasting instrumentation to freshen up the songs and reinvigorate the listener.

Pretty Much Amazing

It’s sometimes a relentless assault on the eardrums, a hailstorm of sounds that induce the aural equivalent of a milkshake brainfreeze if you turn the volume up too high, though Sleigh Bells are wise enough to punctuate the tracks with enough moments of pop levity to allow the senses to recover.


Krauss is on delicious vocal form throughout, sounding both as fierce and feminine as ever, matching cutting lyrics with sounds so girlish they almost risk being cutesy. 

The 405

It is indeed celebratory; it is a lurch into unknown waters, and it is nothing like their previous full-lengths.


Having processed pop's romanticism/nihilism/cynicism, as well as the familiar modern sounds those isms have inspired, Miller refines the duo's roiling, retro-future chest-bumps into agile, anger-is-an-energy chin-checks.

A.V. Club

The record doesn’t quite reach the heights of Treats, but scores a solid hit for a style that didn’t seem like it could sustain more than one album.

The Line of Best Fit

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 from a band I didn’t expect to still be showing quite so much potential on their third full-length.


Sleigh Bells' studies in contrasts aren't shocking anymore, but the fact that they sound more natural on Bitter Rivals makes this some of their most enjoyable music since Treats.


Last year’s ‘Reign Of Terror’ album was noticeably slicker than 2010’s debut ‘Treats’, and ‘Bitter Rivals’ is even more savagely catchy. It wields its hooks like weapons.


Bitter Rivals probably isn’t going to top Treats on anyone’s list of favorite Sleigh Bells albums, but it at least shows that Miller and Krauss are interested in branching out sonically.

The Fly

Unlike 2012′s unlovable ‘Reign Of Terror’, there’s a sense of playfulness on show, specifically on the OTT title track and the ridiculous ‘Tiger Kit’ which features a sample of a cow mooing.


Ultimately, Bitter Rivals is a mish-mosh of songs: some good, some of high quality though tempered by and succumbing to poppiness, and some that shouldn’t have made the final cut. 


It isn't enough of a disaster to put a dent in their solid fanbase, but it doesn't have the spark of the stuff that built it up in the first place.

Under The Radar

It's always encouraging to watch bands evolving and progressing rather than churning out album after album of the same sound—but with Bitter Rivals, Sleigh Bells haven't quite hit all the targets they're aiming for. 

Consequence of Sound

Sleigh Bells have essentially put together a 30-minute homage to Kid Rock’s “Cowboy”, and proven two to be the magic number of Sleigh Bells albums that can be enjoyed before something’s gotta give.

This record has some of Sleigh Bell's best songs to date as they move away from cacophonous noise and more toward a poppier version of their noise pop sound. While again this does work to create a mastery of the noise pop genre with some of the best songs in that genre as a whole, it also leads to quite a few tracks that are just very uninteresting. Minnie, Sugarcane, Sing Like a Wire, and You Don't Get Me Twice all share the same issue where they depend to much on their choruses and hooks to ... read more
Many questionable production choices shroud an otherwise solid project. Certainly a disappointment and a step backwards from their first two albums.
Worth a listen
Sleigh Bells is a great band, but this album seemed rushed. It feels like a collection of rarities that don't really go together. Still, very strong nonetheless.
I kinda sat the last one out, so I think I was ready for more Sleigh Bells. I like it--it still doesn't top their debut, but that thing was bottled lightning. I have to admit, there are some surprisingly conventional pop moments on this album that keep me from really loving it.
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Added on: September 3, 2013