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May 24, 2010 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Sleigh Bells—Treats

Artist:Sleigh Bells
Label: (N.E.E.T.)

Sleigh Bells is the latest in that unfortunately labelled line of ‘internet-hyped’ bands. A variety of leaked demos have established that Sleigh Bells is basically a pop band, but the one major difference being that these songs are LOUD. As in, official-entry-in-the-noise-wars loud. There are punk elements, hip-hop beats and even metal guitar riffs present here. One thing all these genres lack, especially when combined in an ear-blasting mix here, is subtlety. The first thing that comes to mind comparison-wise is Girl Talk, albeit a little less ADD, and with actual songs.

These are definitely pop songs, but there is an undercurrent of something seriously fucked up. Never before have youthful giggles and cheers sounded so menacing. After listening through, the album cover makes a lot of sense: a group of cheerleaders in one of their formations, hands on hips, faces crumpled in on themselves—pretty disturbing. It’s the polar opposite take on youth to M83’s dreamy and nostalgic Saturdays=Youth. This reimagines youth with bitchy cheerleaders and grungy drug-fuelled teenage parties.

But there’s something about Treats that makes me want to play it over and over on repeat: it’s addictive. Their sound is confrontational to say the least. There are moments of respite, as on the funked-up (and Funkadelic-sampling) ‘Rill Rill’, but mostly Sleigh Bells spend Treats crafting a sound that is uniquely theirs. Album opener ‘Tell ‘Em’ lets you know: “Adjust volume now” right up front, with its aggressive bass drum assault and metal guitar riff, and works as a perfect introduction to what’s to come. Lead singer Alexis Krauss used to be in a teen pop group, which makes sense: her vocals are a perfect blend of Sugababes and Alice Glass from Crystal Castles—breathy but violent—but somehow amidst the sonic chaos she mostly keeps her cool.

They are definitely a divisive group, just like their label owner M.I.A., but this is music deserving of strong reactions. The most important aspect of Treats, and something I probably haven’t stressed enough, is how much fun it is. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and knows exactly what it is: big loud party jams. And at that it succeeds.


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  1. Logi says:

    Mean review

  2. Karen says:

    Great review! Wow you really know your stuff! Amazed someone else is as passionate about Sleigh Bells as I am.
    By the way, if you’re not already, you should consider doing some serious reviewing. You can write, and spell. A rare occurrence these days.

  3. okay, you got me to think about the group differently. i’ve been listening to a lot of stuff that is teen nostalgia, but in a sort of melancholy way, beach house, stornoway–and also a lot of Girl Talk! hah! great way of pulling it all together, and i hadn’t even thought of it as party music–i don’t think of MIA as party music, she makes me uncomfortable–i’m into this–i don’t know how dedicated i am–i’m into it.

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