Monday, June 21, 2010

Album Review: Sleigh Bells - Treats

Treats by Sleigh Bells demands attention. In fact, it doesn't even give the option of refusal. This is an album that jumps you, kicks you in the gut and steals your attention.

Opener "Tell 'Em" wastes no time and immediately attacks the listener with heavily distorted beats played in rapid succession. This is quickly followed by a guitar fanfare announcing the arrival of the Brooklyn duo. "Tell 'Em" is energizing and its momentum will propel the listener through the rest of the album.

The distortion on the guitar and heavier beats is brutish throughout the album. It'll re-frame your concept of loud. Sleigh Bell's juxtaposes this against the rhythmic chanting of lead singer Alexis Krauss and a spry drum machine. Treats will inspire equal parts head banging and dancing.

The volume and distortion can be exhausting, but Sleigh Bells gives some respite on quieter, but still catchy tracks like "Rill Rill."

"Tell 'Em" is the star of the album, but the other tracks are hardly filler. "Infinity Guitars" feels relatively sparse at first, but its ferocious ending is great. The early dissonance of "Crown of the Ground" gives way to a bright a melody. The vocal repetitions on "A/B Machines" are hypnotic.

With the focus on the rhythms, volume and distortion, the lyrics are easy to miss. There's not much to miss, but Sleigh Bells hit home on "Tell 'Em" when they challenge the listener and ask "did you do your best today?"

The rush from Treats doesn’t linger long after the album comes to a close so if your ears can take it, it's tempting to hit repeat.

Sleigh Bells will be at Cat's Cradle on July 6 with Nerve City and Po Po. Tickets are $10.

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