Sleigh Bells/MEN - Heaven, London - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Sleigh Bells/MEN - Heaven, London

by Darren Loucaides Rating: Release Date:

Sometimes, live reviews are such a fucking chore. Take this band I'm watching tonight, MEN (fronted by Le Tigre's JD Samson). Every one of their songs sounds so pointless, so effortful. Sure, the guitarist will pop up occasionally with an endearingly cheesy hook and you'll almost start wiggling your booty. But for the most part, the trio - backed by programmed drums - sound like they're competing in a Guitar Hero contest. 'Who Am I' is every 80s post-punk disco-tinged cliché I've ever heard packed into a song, its chorus recalling my least favourite song in the world ever, Bros' 'When Will I Be Famous' (oh! the pain). It's all so 2005. CSS with a big dollop of irritating irony excreted on top.

Anyway, chin up. Tonight is a game of two halves. I liked the Sleigh Bells record (2010's debut full-length, Treats). Yet listening to it on the train at half volume through tinny speakers, it doesn't sound right. It feels too removed, like looking in on a riotous party through a dirty window. At home, sound system turned up, you get closer to the band's roaring heart, but unless you live in a cottage in the middle of nowhere, your decibel zenith is sadly limited.

You know where I'm going with this. Sleigh Bells must be heard live. I discover as much tonight: the moment the duo thunder on stage, I'm compelled to abandon my lofty vantage point on the balcony and infuriate the sold-out Heaven crowd by forcing my way to the front. Hug the speakers, melt your ears. It's party time.

Everything sounds better. Guitarist Derek E Miller is a perennial force, leaping out of the shadows to deliver an ear-shattering riff before disappearing again. Singer Alexis Krauss, meanwhile, is the ultimate cheerleader, unleashing a regular tirade of "Come on London"s and "Are you ready?"s - all winningly ridiculous. This is like post-apocalyptic stadium rock, where nuclear radiation and residual alien space splatter have turned everything neon, carefree and hilarious. The lyrics are instinctual, nebulous. The vocals ring round the venue like a rallying cry. Count me in.

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hot shit. good review

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