Sleigh Bells - Treats
Sleigh Bells formed, at least anecdote goes (thanks Wikipedia), when singer Alexis Krauss' mom volunteered her as a vocalist for then waiter Derek Miller's new music project. It's the stuff of dreams isn't it? Ok, so there's no fantastic discovery moment, maybe instead just a second of kismet between two strangers that lead to a capturing of artistic vision. From that day in 2008 forward, the duo has been creating, refining and polishing their noise pop, electro-punk-dance hybrid product to the amazing state in which we listener's can now find it. Treats is their debut LP and it is a complex, perhaps not initially easily digestible manifestation of its title. Think of it as an indie music Tootsie Roll Pop; hard and somewhat difficult to break through, but with a delicious chocolately(ish) center. And, just to be clear, that analogy only works if you don't take the owl's way out. No biting.
Opening with a roar and clatter, and littered with gasps, moans, echoes, breathy loops (and some mean funky, guitar, drums and sampled instruments galore), Treats is an attention grabber that feels like early Beck and M.I.A. in places, but doesn't rely on any one sound for long enough to get tired or repetitive. It's noisy, grinding, chunky, fuzzy and demanding. The lyrics are catchy, if occasionally cliche, and Krauss' vocals really keep the album afloat and alive. Krauss has one of those voices that has just the right amount of sweetness in it, and just the right amount of world-weary awareness. She never seems to be a cherry atop the music, and granted that speaks more to the producing than anything, but it's also very clear that this collaboration values has Sleigh Bells valuing her voice as an instrument more than as a band-leading position.
Miller shines too, coming up with some of the most catchy and noisy tracks imaginable. Sometimes it feels vaguely folksy, sometimes its surf rock, sometimes its hip hop, but each track also comes with a healthy portion of ass-kicking. Drums here are angry and the guitars could rip a grown man's face right off. Generally, it's just a great assemblage of produced, layered noise that never takes itself too seriously... it's not trying to be art, rather seems willing to tell art to fuck off. "Rill Rill," "Crown On The Ground," and "Infinitely Guitars" will blow your mind. As will the rest of the album. You'll catch on with one or two anthems here, too. And if you spend the time, it's one of the most interestingly layered discs to come out in awhile. Sometimes 4 or 5 tracks, or shit, more! are all happening at once. It's staggering. It's delicious. Go get it.
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