Release Date: Jun 1, 2010
Record label: Mom + Pop/N.E.E.T.
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
It’s worth noting that Derek Miller, the multi-instrumentalist who is one-half of Sleigh Bells, cut his chops in the seminal Florida hardcore act Poison the Well. Worth noting for those already attuned to the considerable hype surrounding Treats, because that band’s 2003 release, You Before You, is one of the heaviest and downright strangest records ever to come out on a major label, and it would right a sad oversight if Miller’s recent critical currency found it a new audience. But his hardcore roots should be plastered across the cover of Treats for the sake of all newcomers too, who might believe critics when they bill Sleigh Bells as an electro-pop/dance act.
Sleigh Bells ring, are you listening? Treats, the debut effort from noise-rock newcomers Sleigh Bells, is the logical conclusion of the loudness war; it manages to challenge basic assumptions of how music can (and should) sound. You either buy the Brookyln duo’s central conceit or you don’t: bombastic synth-rock for bombast’s sake, with mixing cranked so high your speakers sound like they’re about to combust. It’s a preposterous juxtposition—Alexis Krauss’ way-past-sweet vocals as the sugary glaze on Derek Miller’s gritty and serrated riffing and beats—until the soaring power chords of opener and single “Tell ‘Em” kick off the album with a thunderclap, and you barrel through a 32-minute sonic rollercoaster that’s totally, gloriously, devoid of subtlety and restraint.
Forget 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.
When a low frequency sound is turned up to high and resonates at just the right rate something very alarming can occur within the thoracic cavity. With enough force from the right vibrations, a lung can collapse in on itself. You’ll be out of breath, in great pain and you’ll (most likely) collapse from a combination of the two. The four, repetitive 808 hits that punctuate album opener Tell ‘Em are of the lung collapsing, subwoofer busting variety.
There are many ways to grab attention in music. From an outrageous dress sense to the kind of loose-tongued gossip columnists dream of, the options are endless (Boy George has most bases covered here). American duo Sleigh Bells choose a more pre-historic method though: pure unadulterated noise. Treats is the album iPod speakers are warned about as children, a ghostly camp fire tale to the eardrums, tinnitus's backward cousin from across the pond.
Once in a while a record comes along that makes you re-think loud: King of Rock; The Land of Rape and Honey; Nation of Millions; Super Ae; I Get Wet; Kesto. Setting aside the quality of the material-- there are classics here, along with albums I never listen to anymore-- these albums are notable for me because the first time I heard them, music just seemed bigger than it had before, like it took up more space and hit with more force and went further than once seemed possible. When I was getting into these records, I'd get a specific kind of kick just from putting them on.
Few have captured the feverish ?attentions ?of the indie blogosphere as wholly and ?immediately as this Brooklyn boy-girl duo, and it isn’t hard to see why. It’s as if every element of Sleigh Bells’ genre-swerving sound — primitive guitar fuzz, pastiche beats, sugar-buzz? vocals — bypasses the default snark button and burrows? directly into jaded listeners’ punch-drunk pleasure centers. Treats? Indeed.
Sleigh Bells’ bone-pulverizing, speaker-imploding sound was born in the realization by band member Derek Miller that hip-hop could be just as loud as the hardcore music he made in Poison the Well before he quit that band. That realization is already well-known to anyone with a decent set of speakers and a familiarity with Ruff Ryders-era Swizz Beatz. In indie rock, though, this is akin to Albert Einstein discovering the Theory of Relativity while riding the train.
Noise pop duo Sleigh Bells are one of those love 'em or hate 'em acts. Hell, it's not unusual to find yourself oscillating between the two during the course of a song. By the disc's end, though, they manage to charm the pants off you. [rssbreak] While often described as noise pop, they have little in common with other acts under that umbrella.
Why did it take us this long to get here? The Bomb Squad was MacGyvering killer beats out of sonic scraps and chunks of wailing audio refuse way back in the late 80s, so why did the pop applications of noise have to remain on the fringes for this damn long? M. I. A.
One of 2010’s most attention-getting debuts, Sleigh Bells' Treats comes on strong. Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss craft a sound that’s all climax, that sounds like cheap stereos turned up to 11 and boom cars that might actually explode. Nearly all the parts of all the songs on Treats are saturated with distortion that makes them feel even louder than they actually are (which is pretty loud to begin with).
It says a lot for the breadth of music in 2010 that Alexis Krauss – who, alongside Derek Miller, makes up Brooklyn-based Sleigh Bells – refers to their debut album as "pop". On first listen, the deceptively titled Treats is anything but, with cacophonous, heavily distorted guitar riffs shredding through beats that explode and crackle as if purposefully mixed too high. Among the maelstrom, however, is Krauss's sweetly cooing voice, and it's her presence that counteracts the noise, giving the album its melodic focal point.
Poison The Well guitarist Derek Miller turns his hand to electro-pop. Featuring former Poison The Well guitarist Derek Miller, Sleigh Bells’ debut is a strange one. From the very first hit of Gabba-style drums, booming bass, stabbed synths and electronically-manipulated guitars, this is the sound of a band either reinventing electro-pop for a new generation or mutilating it to within an inch of its life.
Despite a name that evokes thoughts of Christmas kitsch and a stage persona that leaves many cold, Sleigh Bells are here to stay. With the blown-out speaker quality of last year's widely-circulated, under-produced demos ("Ring Ring," "Crown on the Ground," "Beach Girls," "Infinity Guitars") tamed to a more palatable squeal, multi-instrumentalist Derek Miller and vocalist Alexis Krauss have created a delicious summer album, shimmying through the worlds of pop, electro, and hip-hop like a pair of sugar-buzzed kids in a candy store. While the lasting power of Treats past the warm weather months may be questionable, the duo is out to make hay while the sun shines with a high octane combination of combustible beats, finger snaps, cheerleader chants, beat machines, giddy screams, and unfiltered sass.
M.I.A.-feted Brooklyn duo unveils a noisily addictive debut album. Louis Pattison 2010 Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss, the him and the her behind new M.I.A.-feted Brooklyn sensation Sleigh Bells, hail from two pretty distant areas on the musical map. He learned his chops playing guitar in Miami metalcore ragers Poison the Well. She, meanwhile, got her break playing in a teen pop band called Rubyblue.
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM “This Is Happening”. (DFA).
Never mind the hype. Sleigh Bells offers little more than a Barbie version of M.I.A., fitting given that the Brooklyn duo signed to the controversial rapper's vanity label. Producer Derek Miller crafts aggressive instrumentals with street-sweeper riffs and dirty house beats, as if trying to single-handedly end the loudness wars, while Alexis Krauss cheers from the sidelines with bubblegum vocals.