Sleigh Bells - Treats - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Sleigh Bells - Treats

by James Bray Rating:8 Release Date:2010-06-21

Sleigh Bells, the New York based electro-punk duo comprised of Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss, have effortlessly created a huge amount of internet hype over the past few months; the excitement began last year where some of their tracks, such as 'Crown on the Ground', were leaked online; this song in particular roused interest in the unknown group because of it's simple but irresistible mix of teenge riffs, super-charged synths, industrial drum beats and Krauss' sweet and sultry vocals. What made these few songs so compelling for the would-be fans is that Sleigh Bells had created something that was new and exciting, yet still instantly accessible.

In Treats the group expand and develop the sound that made their internet demos so popular. They firmly assert the aesthetic of industrial sweetness cut with melodious hardcore. This oppositional dynamic is fundamental to the group's sound and stems from the musical relationship between Miller and Krauss. Producer and guitarist, Miller was previously a member of post-hardcore group Poision the Well while Krauss was once a member of girl group Ruby Blue; the cross-over creates something new with it's insistent harmonies, oil drum crescendoes all of which informed and guided by Krauss' fallen-angel vocals.

The album begins with manifesto-style assertiveness with 'Tell 'Em' which showcases Miller's industrial dance riffing that reduces the guitar to simple, but entirely compelling sounds and melodies. The elementary yet hugely effective production brings the drums to the forefront of the sound and Krauss completes the dynamic as she sings the melody of one of Miller's riffs. The next song, 'Kids', is as essential as the first track with it's over-drive synths, background teenage chatter "Did I forget my sunglasses?" and Krauss' sultry and melodious hipster rapping.

'Infinity Guitars', which you can probably tell from the title leans more towards Millers hardcore roots and Krauss adopts an appropriately primal approach; she screeches "Cowboys! Indians! Infinity guitars tonight!" as her dynamic vocals matches one of Miller's punchy riffs. 'Run the Heart's honey-lush ambience with it's breathy vocals is very much more of a grown-up version of Ruby Blue's sound. In all these songs we see how Miller's uses Logic (his favoured music production software) to create a very specific sound for Sleigh Bells; he uses a DJ style of production to create this towering electro-hardcore-pop. One could argue that the fact that the production leaves nothing but clean lines and broad strokes diminishes the album's personality; I think it adds to Sleigh bells particular aesthetic of monumental graffiti.

Treats was released on N.E.E.T Recordings which is MIA's label and you can certainly see Maya's electro-hop influence on the album's production. 'Rill Rill' is another great song with it's loopy summer acoustic guitars, chimes and consummate piano chords; it's another one that Krauss really makes her own with her sweet and melodious song-speaking about summer crushes and braces, "What about them? I'm all about them, six such straight a's, cut em in the bathroom." 'A/B Machines' is stand-alone thrilling, just in the surging sounds that Miller manages to create.

The album closes with 'Treats'. This track is Sleigh Bells' calling card; it has the pounding drums, industrial synths, stripped-down hardcore guitar, fairytale chimes and Krauss' honey pie vocals, asserting "Drum-mer boy..."

The songs on Treats will have people dancing (whether they be hardcore kids or pop kids) and this is great as treats, as we should know, are not something to be intellectualised. That's not to say that Sleigh Bells are superficial or trivial but simply that their focus is on the immediate, the visceral and the intuitive. This is a great album and the thrill doesn't diminish on repeated listens. In the context of deconstructed electro music, Sleigh Bells have a good chance of beating Crystal Castles to real mainstream success.

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