Sleigh Bells haven't exactly had an easy time of it. Their debut album Treats was perhaps never fully intended as a “statement” album – it was just so damn fun, it turned into one. While Reign of Terror layered on enough complexity (both musical and emotional) to keep the hype burning, what's come since – fairly or nay – has been increasingly less embraced. Their most recent, Jessica Rabbit, in particular seemed to be confusedly grasping for past glory while throwing out every possible stylistic dart at a worn board.

They're clearly aware of the perceived diminishing returns. While they took just over three years between their last albums, Kid Kruschev arrives just a day under a year after Jessica Rabbit. It may be a slight statement, but it does more to rejuvenate them than their last full-length in half the time. Clocking in at just over twenty minutes, there's no room for excess, and not a second is wasted.

Moreover, their songwriting has perhaps never felt more open and vulnerable. The crashing guitar of ‘Panic Drills’ is nearly immediately confronted with “Fucked me up when my dad died”; unlike recent missteps, a lyrical force equal to the music is ever present. While perhaps particularly so on Reign Of Terror, one of Sleigh Bells' greatest tricks has long been juxtaposing a clear sense of desperation with tunes to make an audience want to party so badly that the sadness only sets in later. Here, that force is more alive than in years, capable of tearing the listener apart only to force their remains towards the dance floor.

Kid Kruschev also allows for a real sense of time and place, drifting through aimless summers wasted on trampolines, into ‘Florida Thunderstorm’, which sounds precisely as advertised, one can nearly hear the receding weather. Next up, ‘And Saints’ finds the duo in true despair, the dully throbbing guitar line casting an isolated backdrop for some of the rawest words found here, again dealing with the loss of a father, digging in, “I swear I'm the shell of a man…/ So and so wants to know I'm ok/ ...Cheer up, gear up.” It may sound simple reduced to print, but on the record, singer Alexis Krauss makes every word sear right into the listener, the fragility is palpable. You think it's going to inevitably crash and explode with energy and house. It never does, instead receding into an icy darkness. Needless to say, it makes for one hell of a uncharacteristic closer to an all-too-brief return to form. However, in keeping it short and sour, the normally too giving Sleigh Bells have finally done it: left us wanting.