Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Sleigh Bells – ‘Treats’ (Mom & Pop / N.E.E.T)

I almost don’t want to write this review. Because I know if you haven’t heard ‘Treats’ already, some of you are going to read this and be seriously put off. So let’s just get this out the way shall we? Sleigh Bells are a noise-pop duo made up of Alexis Krauss and Derek E. Miller. They’re from Brooklyn and signed to M.I.A.’s N.E.E.T. Recordings after Spike Jonze told her to check them out. Oh and they’re getting major Internet buzz. I know, right? With a start like that Sleigh Bells didn’t really need to bother making their album good, but they did anyway.

This album somehow manages to simultaneously sound like nothing and everything you’ve ever heard before. The songs are simple and loud and exhilarating. In a half hour album there isn’t a lot of time for build up, so what you get instead is hook after hook smashing into each other, beginning with ‘Tell Em’, which was released as a single on August 9th. Amongst the noise there are some slower moments. ‘Rill Rill’ is as close to a ballad as you’re going to get and it is quite beautiful in a way, with Krauss’s vocals lending an almost childlike quality to the song as she sings “Have a heart, have a heart”. ‘Infinity Guitars’ is another standout track, purely for the way it kicks up a gear in the latter third. The lyrics are practically unintelligible over the cascade of drums and synths, as is the case with many of the songs on the album, although this should have little effect on how likely we are to enjoy them . The album finishes with the title track, ‘Treats’, which starts off sounding like ‘How Soon Is Now?’ before turning into a sinister screech of a song that ends as abruptly as the album began.

Comparisons to Crystal Castles are inevitable but not entirely helpful. This is pop music. They remind me of Micachu’s home made pop sound and just a touch of M.I.A. herself, with the copious use of patch worked unusual sounds. Is there an element of needing to get your ear around it first? Absolutely. But the pay off once you manage to do that is an immensely enjoyable album that I wouldn’t be surprised to find on a few end of year lists.

Words: Joanna Dunne.

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