On the Record: “Treats” by Sleigh Bells
November 4, 2010
One phrase can be used to describe “Treats,” the new album by indie-rock group Sleigh Bells: it’s the best music you’ve never heard. This band is offering a tidal wave of originality that blends the sounds of indie artists like MGMT and Passion Pit with the quick beat and low bass of bands like the Cataracs. The sound of Sleigh Bells is so different from anything I’ve ever heard before; they don’t fit a particular genre, but their capacity for versatility is amazing. Sleigh Bells has gained recent notoriety being a featured MTV PUSH artist earlier in October, and again in a commercial for Honda’s hybrids. Sleigh Bells members Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller have signed on to M.I.A’s label, N.E.E.T Records with a menagerie of similarly eclectic artists.
The music is extremely diverse ranging from melodic guitar synths to hard riffs and sampled seventies funk to tourrettes-like noise that is shouted between choruses. The album has a solid lineup of eleven songs, all of which are treats for the ears. This is the type of music that you’ll want to play once your roommate has left, so that you can dance around your room in your underwear without any embarrassment. “Riot Rhythm” and “Tell ’Em” are tropical storms of pop sound distortion with heavy wind and rain from drums and a heavy bass. The combination of Krauss’ gentle airy voice amidst cyclonic chaos of sound is an incredible fusion of audio magic. On “Infinity Guitars” she alternates between shouting over the heraldic racket and serenading the microphone. Another hurricane track on the forecast is “Crown on the Ground,” which begins with a synth note being bent and distorted that then turns into a dancefloor banger.
After listening to this album once, you have to listen to it again and again — a formula that’s similar to wash, rinse and repeat. It’s one of those rare collections that you can hear on an infinite loop and never ever lose the same passion that was there the first time around because there is always something new to notice. The best song from the set is “Rill Rill” — the band samples “Can You Get to That” by Funkadelic. The tune has a sublimity that transcends the listener and the lyrics sound like the dialogue from a Michael Cera-esque teen comedy: “So this is it then?/ You’re here to win friend/ Click click saddle up see you on the moon then.”
The honesty in the lyrics and the integrity of the craft is commendable for musicians who are working with such a high-tech medium that can get drowned in the auto-tuned, unoriginal and sampled madness. What’s more is that “Treats” is at a steal on iTunes for only $10, super affordable for quantity and quality. The album art is an interesting choice as well — a pyramid of cheerleaders with blurred faces. I think the artwork and motif of the music are one in the same; the music is loud, energetic and a collection that works and supports the others.
Sleigh Bells’s distinct audio aesthetic is what we need at a William and Mary AMP Event. Not only is the sound an inspirational blast of cosmological recording genius, even with all its current exposure it is still underground and a possible act that could perform on campus. “Treats” has my highest approval. If alternative music is your scene then check them out and if not try something new.