Sleigh Bells - Treats
Record Label: Mom and Pop/N.E.E.T.
Release Date: May 11, 2010
My first reaction to Sleigh Bells was one of intrigue. Just by the way they were described to me and the discovery of early demos brought about thoughts of "Cool, a new heavy electro-band," and even the negative connotation of "Great. Another laptop/beatbox wonder to hype and add to the list of pseudo-hipster bullshit." Then a bombshell was dropped on me: Derek Miller was one half the electro-pop duo. The guy who was once part of one of my (and still) favorite bands of all time was behind this.
It should not be old news that many punk kids turn DJ's across this fine artistic land. Along with Austin's own L.A.X. (Andrew Collins of At All Cost) and of course Jaguar Love, there are quite a few bands comprised of musicians from former hardcore bands that are little bit more groove oriented presently. Even Alice Glass was pulled into Crystal Castles from Ethan Kath's stumble upon her noise-punk band in Toronto.
Hardcore is definitely the game here. In all honesty, where Crystal Castles failed to grab my attention all the way through their debut album, Treats is sonically driving and gripping most of the way through like a HEALTH live show. There are numerous times when I feel everything is peaking past where it should be on the mix. From the opening "Tell Em" through "Infinity Guitars," the frequency and noise of the rhythmic arrangements sort of make you forget about all the other bands clinging to their laptops and effect pedals. The mix is certainly where Treats soars. It seems pretty basic upon first listen, but the instrumental change-up's and compositions are what keeps the blood's adrenaline on high and full attention.
Things slow down a bit with "Run the Heart," while "Rill Rill" sounds much like a smooth Odelay b-side. A turn off to the album may be vocalist Alexis Krauss' repetitive lines though. She shines as a writer on "Rill Rill," but is mostly verbally equipped with chorus lines throughout the album. That isn't much of a downside considering the lines rhythmically flow in their respectful places, but it definitely leaves the album bordering great lyrical releases the likes of IRM or Teen Dream to Merriweather Post Pavillion lyricism. Match that to the short length of Treats and quick quirks of "Straight As" and "Kids," and its run time will either harbor bitterness or positive playbacks throughout the summer. In a way, the negatives can be seen in a bright light here because the album is just that addicting and forceful.
Forceful is just what is capturing about Treats. It is what makes it so hardcore to the bone. Miller puts together gritty guitar licks and hammering beats worthy of an opening slot with Ghengis Tron in my eyes and matches it to the beautiful, yet aggressive sound of Krauss' mouth. Forget Ke$ha or the new LCD Soundsystem at this point, Treats is poised to be this year's br00tal jam for many with its pop charm lacing hardcore sensibility. Be aggressive. B. E. Aggressive.