I had no idea a bunch of synthesizers, drum machines (an occasional real kit), a good female lead, and one giant guitar could be so fun. Brooklyn duo, Sleigh Bells, pounding, screeching, infectiously delicious noise pop explodes on their debut album, Treats. Songs like “Riot Rhythm” and “Kids” sound like anthemic Le Tigre singalongs played through Sonic Youth’s guitar rig in the back of a school bus … that’s slamming broadside into the side of a mountain. Piles of sound, which independently and without the shape of melody could easily be nerve racking, come together in a hard-edged and fierce pop attack.
Alexis Krauss’s sweet yet pummeling vocals sing velvet-y calls to action along with grinding distorted guitar and sub-woofer testing bass drops on “Infinity Guitars.” “Run the Heart” offers the same signature vocals with slammin’ bass worthy of the hardest booty club swirled up in a haze of guitar effects and more synth that seems closer to house music than indie rock. A pervasive feeling of bittersweet sentiment carries the Leiber-and-Stoller-songwriting-meets-the-Flaming-Lips-production of “Rill Rill.” The first single, “Crown on the Ground,” basically encapsulates the feel of the album. It defines noise pop ‚ a series of distorted sounds, muffled melodies, and other various, squealing, moving parts that, in the wrong hands, could cause serious damage.
Treats ties the low-fi, the squelching and buzzing, and yes, one big, fat, loud guitar together rather nicely. The entire album walks a very fine and precarious line between innovation and noisy repetition, but saunters away victorious. I’m just not sure how Sleigh Bells could follow this up …
Written for REAX Online 5.16.2010