On “Rachel”: Can’t Listen To Anything Else

Punk and indie bands have done pop and disco before. Endlessly. And despite the permutations, always in the same general sense: to carry along a critique and pass along an aesthetic judgment, whether it’s Gang of Four doing “At Home He’s A Tourist” (out on the DISCO FLOOR! They make their PROFIT!) or Suicide trying to turn a synthesizer into a chainsaw or Le Tigre reclaiming the dance floor. Let’s not talk about LCD Soundsystem.

“Rachel” is something different. My technophile friends can analyze this with greater precision, but here Sleigh Bells actually use that crunching synth sound that you’ve heard on every Usher hit. It’s pushed up into the red, as all Sleigh Bells tracks are, but there isn’t anything that identifies “Rachel” as in that previous tradition of indie dissatisfaction. Just a manufactured snap to count out a downbeat and impossibly pretty falsetto vocals. Sleigh Bells is not out to destroy Usher. They are out to make the Usher track that they want to hear. (Well, to use the sounds Usher uses in the way they want to arrange them; I don’t mean literally that they’re out to write an Usher track.) Remember how the Ramones put “Let’s Dance” on their first record? This is in that tradition. A synthesis.

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman