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The Boston Globe

Music

ALBUM REVIEW | INDIE

Sleigh Bells, ‘Bitter Rivals’

With the lines between “indie” and pop as we’ve known them obliterated by now, credit is due to Brooklyn, N.Y., duo Sleigh Bells for maintaining a bulwark of noise around music that could very easily have surrendered to the allure of crossover success. While they dally with more approachable material on their third LP with songs like “Young Legends,” it’s the rare number not bracketed by abrasively chintzy guitar noise meant to read as “rawk,” shudder-inducing synths, and jarring percussive machinery. The balance of the album is, as with the two before it, stubbornly pop-contrarian. “Tiger Kit,” with Alexis Krauss’s saccharine delivery, may well have been an R&B pop hit in other hands, but Derek Miller’s insistent rock-riffing wrangles it from the edge; theirs is a glassy pop aesthetic with splinters of jagged noise crackling throughout. Lead single “Bitter Rivals” turns up the charm, but like most standoffish songs here, it’s with the affectless likability of a robot putting on a human face. (Out Tuesday)

Essential “Young Legends”

Sleigh Bells perform at Royale on Nov. 16.

Luke O’Neil can be reached at lukeoneil47@gmail.com.

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