Krauss’ high-pitched wailing is seldom drowned out here as it has been in the past. Instead, her fast-paced vocals are complemented by Miller’s guitar and synthesizer.
Miller’s drums also have a much greater presence on Rivals as well. “To Hell With You” features a quietly picked guitar and booming drums and background noise in lieu of hyper-punk guitar.
“Young Legends” is Sleigh Bells’ homage to indie bands like it, who go unnoticed and “die all the time.” This is also the most solid track on the album.
Miller keeps listeners guessing with constant tempo changes from verse to chorus to the bridge while Krauss’ vocals range from her typical, aggressive singing to the low-pitched harmonies in the chorus. This song, as well as “You Don’t Get Me Twice,” display the new instrumentation Sleigh Bells is using, acoustic guitar with synthesizers and electronic drums.
Unfortunately, this new instrumentation leads to a softer sound. Another factor in this is the content of the lyrics on the album. With songs like the title track, “Sing Like A Wire” and “Love Sick,” this could be viewed as a breakup album, a now cliché topic in today’s music.
While some of its content may be overused, Bitter Rivals has the instrumentation that puts a fresh take on that old topic.
Krauss and Miller show a broader spectrum of their talent that takes noise pop to a new level.