Review : Sleigh Bells - Treats
PitchforkOn their ambitious debut album, Brooklyn noise pop duo Sleigh Bells treat our ears to a fresh angle on the stagnant crunk sound with cheers, rock guitars, massive drum blasts and air-tight pop vocals. The results are immensely listenable and frequently dazzling. More often than not, the band’s music sounds like a fully-integrated mix of electro pop and 90s hardcore—an admittedly cheap comparison considering that singer Alexis Krauss was indeed once in teen-pop group Ruby Blue, while guitarist/song-writer Derek E. Miller was a long-time member of post-hardcore outfit Poison the Well. Loud-and-clear opener “Tell ‘Em” sums the record up perfectly. If you are unable to process the blaring crunk beat paired with the screaming metal guitar leads, then your attitude about the album is unlikely to change. Krauss’ sugary-sweet vocals sound like they were pulled from another song altogether, but the crowded mix makes room for her quite effectively. Read full review at inyourspeakers.com...full text
PopmattersForget the hype and set aside your suspicions that Sleigh Bells might only be the blogosphere’s flavor-of-the-month—none of that will matter once the sensory overload of Treats kicks in anyway. And that onslaught of noise pretty much begins from the very first instant. You’ll probably be too shellshocked by the anxiety-inducing and heart-palpitating thrills of the leadoff track “Tell ‘Em” to do anything else but take it all in, even if your eardrums tell you to turn off the racket. After some piledriving beats and a towering riff trigger the start of “Tell ‘Em”, hyperactive drum machine rhythms and frenetic synths push their way to the front of the dense, crowded mix, disorienting anyone who expects a sense of space and depth in a song. You figure out pretty fast that Sleigh Bells ain’t music to just have on in the background.
Love it or leave it, even the biggest skeptic has to admit that multi-instrumentalist Derek Miller and vocalist Alexis Krauss have created a musical experience all their own. Maybe it’s the scenester infatuation with Sleigh Bells that has gotten antennas up for the release of Treats, but it’s the band’s brash aesthetic that’s going to hold all the attention that it has generated. So while part of Sleigh Bells’ appeal has to do with its bold inventiveness, a lot more of it has to be chalked up to the air of invincibility that comes through in the duo’s bruising, high-impact sound, which elicits a visceral reaction that gets you to really feel its excesses and indulge in them.
When you see the hipsters and geeks strutting as if they’re prizefighters this summer, you’ll have a good idea of what’s probably playing on their iPods. Indie takes on intro music for a heavyweight bout, “Riot Rhythm” and “Crown on the Ground” are dance-punk juggernauts, brimming over with pounding beats that are cut across by piercing guitars and slicing sound effects. In particular, “Crown on the Ground” walks out to a fevered pitch with guitars blazing from the start, yet somehow keeps building up the intensity, with layer upon layer of blaring keyboards, fuzzed-out rhythms, and anthemic vocals. That M.I.A. is Sleigh Bells’ biggest booster—and investor, since her N.E.E.T. label is co-releasing Treats—makes a lot of sense when you hear the boisterous swagger of “Kids” and “A / B Machines”, though you might wonder who’s teaching whom a few new tricks if you consider the latest tracks leaked from the upcoming album ///Y/. Whichever way the influence is working, Krauss’ scattershot speak-singing and the hypercharged melodies of both songs have a similar feel to M.I.A.‘s playfully aggressive sound, just if the latter had its worldly eclecticism shorn down to its most brutally infectious elements....full text
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