Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sleigh Bells - Treats (2010)

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A couple months ago I don't think I would've given Brooklyn duoSleigh Bells a chance. Being described as noise pop, electro-pop, even dance-punk would've been enough to keep me away but curiosity led to give them a listen. Sleigh bells for many denote that time of Christmas cheer of silence accompanied by the far-away tinkling of those characteristic yuletide bells that signify the coming of the red-suited jolly fellow. Well Sleigh Bells channels some of that cheer and also focuses on what happens when those bells aren't so far away and can be heard all year round. The genre names hardly do Sleigh Bells a service so I'll attempt to what it is they do exactly: Take equal parts of hip hop beats mixed with some hard-rock guitar and add Alexis Krauss' ethereal voice floating over and you have Sleigh Bells or their debut album Treats in particular. Clocking in at about 30 and some change minutes, it's a nonstop hit fest. There's so few albums nowadays where each song is as engaging, energetic, and done as the one that preceding it. "Tell 'Em", "Kids", and "Riot Rhythm" form this perfect album starting trifecta maintaining this arc of high energy and clustered sound before "Infinity Guitars" kind of comes down (but only a little bit) and there's suddenly a vacuum of space where you hear silence. "Run The Heart" continues to strip things down to their bare essentials allowing Krauss' voice unencumbered travel while some drums and effects tie it to the rest of the album's crash-bang sound. "Rachel" resembles at its core some sort of old school beach-pop song or lovelorn 60s girl group ballad. "Rill Rill", which samples Funkadelic's "Can You Get To That" is another balladic track; a sort of ode to high school days long passed. "Crown on the Ground" combines the smooth lyrical melodies that you could hear in the past couple of sounds with the busy banging-on-a-can effects that you heard in the album's first couple tracks. "Straight As", the shortest track on the album, is punky in both sound and energy and would fit seamless into a fight scene in a movie. "A/B Machines" is one of those tracks that if you started playing it randomly somewhere would have people turning there heads, start head bobbing, and break out dancing if they were truly adventurous. "Treats" closes the album with this epic end-of-the-video-game like foreboding complimented by Krauss' siren-like vocals.

Sleigh Bells is definitely one of those bands that defy explanation, the genre labels people have attached to them conjures of visions of poorly done dance music when in fact, Treats is dance-y while also remaining musical and interesting. I'm glad I was able to suspend disbelief long enough to find them and hope to hear much more from them. No official music videos exist for the band so instead enjoy this live video of Sleigh Bells performing "Crown on the Ground" at SXSW.

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