Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit


Sleigh Bells – Treats
12 August 2010, 10:00 Written by Erik Thompson

For those that find the recent influx of somnambulant musical success stories like Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes and Beach House all a bit too mundane for their bouts of Friday night recklessness, there has thankfully been a flood of boisterous bands whose only goal, it seems, is to shake all of us out of our collective comfort zones and on to a crowded dance floor as the speakers collapse around us. Crystal Castles, A Place To Bury Strangers and Fuck Buttons have all managed to create a modern sonic beauty out of ear-splitting dissonance, causing fans to happily go deaf while they get swept away by both their massive sound and boundless energy. Brooklyn’s Sleigh Bells fit easily into that discordant mold, crafting a relentless sonic onslaught on their debut record, Treats, that manages to be catchy simply because you can’t escape their massive sound; consuming the listener while also captivating them at the same time. And while the album does run out of gas a bit towards the end, the fact that it’s a mere thirty-two minutes speaks to both its combustible nature and brazen focus. Ultimately, something this incendiary is never really built to last.

The album kicks off riotously with a power-drill beat reminiscent of M.I.A.’s ‘Steppin Up,’ which is interesting since the duo is not only signed to M.I.A.’s N.E.E.T. Recordings, but frontwoman Alexis Krauss is often (wrongly) compared to the mercurial Sri Lankan singer. No matter who came up with the idea to incorporate the cacophonous drilling sound into their beats first, it’s a clear way to not only jarringly capture your listener’s attention, but also to clearly announce your raucous sonic intentions. Multi-instrumentalist Derek Miller (formerly of Poison The Well) is the mastermind of Sleigh Bells, and he deliberately obliterates any musical boundaries throughout the entire record, piling layer upon layer of filthy auditory mayhem on top of infectious, resounding beats, resulting in a racket that is as distinct as it is explosive. The “follow or get out of the way” nature of ‘Riot Rhythm’ is like the siren call of a modern day Pied Piper, leading the kids to one hell of a house party instead of to their doom. So much of Treats has an insular, remote quality, where you’re either in the know or you find yourself on the outside looking in; you can climb on board, but this supercharged dynamo is already moving and won’t be waiting for you for long.

A few of these songs have been floating around since 2009, when the fledgling duo’s demos created a stir that has been building rapidly ever since. ‘Beach Girls’ gets reworked (for the better) here as ‘Kids,’ and ‘Ring Ring’ is renamed ‘Rill Rill,’ but still keeps the indelible guitar riff from Funkadelic’s ‘Can You Get To That.’ It was the irresistible fury of ‘Crown On The Ground’ that got everyone’s attention in the first place, and while the finished version is a bit cleaner and more polished, none of the intensity and inventiveness of the demo has been lost, and the song soars just like it should. ‘A/B Machines’ perhaps stays truest to the primitive ferocity of the initial version, with the frayed production on the track making it sound it could break apart at any minute. Krauss’ vocals sound robotic and tense, which is a perfect compliment to the apocalyptic sounds Miller is generating, as if the future itself is violently colliding with the present day in a restless struggle for supremacy.

‘Infinity Guitars’ is the outsider anthem of the anti-cheerleader, with her smeared black eyeliner streaming down her face as she completely loses herself within the crushing finish of the song, which detonates relentlessly all around her. Unfortunately, that caustic spirit proves impossible for the band to maintain, and ‘Run The Heart,’ ‘Rachel,’ and ‘Straight A’s’ prove to be just mere filler compared to the far more innovative tracks on the record’s second half. The title track begins with a ‘How Soon Is Now’ hum before unleashing the over-processed siren-like guitars that announce the decimation of not only our speakers but music as we know it, and closes out the album in turbulent, feisty manner. Loud is now the new quiet, with Sleigh Bells leading the charge and leaving everything and everyone trembling in the wake of their seething, untamed sound.


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