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Sleigh Bells

Treats


[N.E.E.T. / Mom & Pop; 2010]



By ; May 28, 2010 


Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Sleigh Bells’ debut album is really loud. I’m not sure if any of their early buzz has made mention of this, but it’s worth pointing out. It’s the kind of “loud” that’s jarring but also exhilarating. It’s also completely unlike anything else in the pop-music world. If M.I.A. fronted Rage Against the Machine, the result might come close to Treats on a purely sonic level, but even those comparisons aren’t entirely fair, because this is not a political album, as far as I can tell. I could be wrong, of course—it’s near impossible to make out most of what Alexis Krauss is saying on this album.

It’s almost fair to compare Sleigh Bells’ minimalist attack to that the White Stripes employed on their early albums, but only if Jack White had been fixated on becoming Trent Reznor rather than Eric Clapton. Most of these songs consist of barely more than jackhammer riffs from Derek Miller, skittering drum machines, and some shouted vocals from Krauss. But the most lasting impact comes from the guitar work, which is bludgeoning and overpowering in the best sense of the world.

The main characteristic of Treats as an album is the sameness it has, and on the surface that seems like a criticism, but it’s not. The sound of this record is so utterly different than anything else indie blogs are hyping right now that this sonic repetitiveness actually works to its advantage in establishing a unique voice. If I’m being completely honest, the best descriptor for songs like “Tell ‘Em,” “Straight A’s,” and “Run the Heart” is one that I couldn’t very well use without everybody thinking I’m comparing this record to Limp Bizkit and Korn. That’s right—at its core, this is rap metal. The majority of these songs primarily (and in some cases solely) feature rapping over metallic guitar riffs

Ultimately, Treats succeeds on sheer originality. There’s not a lot of music coming out right now that sounds like this, and I kind of hope it stays that way. As good of an album as Sleigh Bells’ debut is—and it is one of the most impressive debuts of the year—it would be nice if it was let to occupy its own unique corner of the indie universe, rather than becoming a blueprint for what bands that Pitchfork writes about are supposed to sound like, a la Vampire Weekend or Fleet Foxes. Treats is a smart, quirky debut that’s as punishing as it is melodic, and wholly satisfying.


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