Sleigh Bells - Treats
Antonio Rowe 01/07/2010
Up until now I've never been one for anarchy in music. Whether it's been organised or unorganised I always possessed the impression that the more 'hardcore' genres of music were lazy, resting on the fact that just because their music was loud and shambolic it immediately deemed them different or credible. So it goes without saying that if it wasn't for Brooklyn male/female duo Sleigh Bells I wouldn't now be writing this review in the preterite tense and I would still maintain the same uneducated prejudice for said genre.
Just like many other journo's and bloggers alike I too was bowled over when NY noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells, Derek Miller (noisemaker) and Alexis Krauss (girl singer) released a mixture of demos last fall. They quickly became noticed for their weird but brilliant audio juxtaposition; a foundation of brash metal riffs and break-beats supplied by Miller with Krauss delivering some deliriously euphonious cheerleading hooks. Needless to say when meshed together it was to great musical effect. You may think this sum of sonic parts seems random, outlandish and altogether non-sensical: you'd be wrong. Previous to Sleigh Bells, Derek was the bassist for the hardcore band Poison the Well, with Alexis's humble beginnings entailing a stint in a generic pop/rock band Ruby Blue that never managed to quite take off. After an encounter in a restaurant that seems only worthy of Hollywood movie status Sleigh Bells were born. The idiom 'opposites attract' seems to be Sleigh Bells' main philosophical muse for their debut disc.
With the aforementioned absurd musical concoction that dazzles and coats 'Treats' being the pivotal aspect that makes the music so darn enjoyable, Sleigh Bells are (dare I say) different to anything else out there right now. It's a mixture of truly explosive tracks combined with the concept of having fun by just going completely bananas to the mash-up of rhythmic break-beats and repetitive glam metal riffs. Standout tracks are hard to choose with each track being equally boundary smashing as the next, although 'Kids' seems extra special with its stuttering vocal reverbs riding a tsunami of air sirens and pounding drums. And if their ubiquitous breakout track 'Tell 'Em' doesn't stimulate a primal urge that makes you want to be a freak to the beat and just generally act like a total buffoon, then to be frank there is actually something wrong with you.
But just like with any band there are some pesky naysayers branding their overall sonic with close-minded statements such as 'hipster garbage', 'Ting Tings gone feral' and 'contrived and boring' all being thrown into the cynical mixing bowl. Although in the same breath it would be equally wrong of me to say this is an album for anyone, with lack of differentiation in sound and emotional lyrical depth being the album's main pitfalls and also it must be noted that the constant barrage of noise and chaos can begin to grate with penultimate track 'A/B machines' a prime example of overindulgence, with Alexis's vocals being dressed up with mentor's M.I.A monotone vocal delivery.
Furthermore this chaotic sound that Sleigh Bells apparently have mastered isn't exactly one full of room for experimentation nor growth, so it's suffice to say the grand old question: ' What are they going to do next?' does come to mind. But with a musical style so loud and manic yet surprisingly melodic and poppy, it's not with an ounce of uncertainty when I say that when Sleigh Bells do return with a fresh long-player I will certainly be interested as to see where they decide to take their musical anarchy next. Whether the unforseen outcome will be as fresh, innovative and interesting as 'Treats' is yet to be decided.