#13. Sleigh Bells – Treats
For a little background, Sleigh Bells started making some waves on the internet when their demo started floating around. They signed to M.I.A.’s record label, and then I saw them at Coachella before their album dropped. They showed up, blasted the packed tent in the early afternoon for about 20 minutes, leaving everyone blown away. I definitely bought into the hype after seeing them in person.
Similarly, the explosiveness of their debut album, Treats, lands it high on my countdown. Treats is a compact blast of razor-sharp riffs, modern in its simplicity and lo-fi arrangement. Alexis Krauss (the singer) subverts the hard guitar with her female energy, giving Sleigh Bells a more interesting sound. Krauss and Derek Miller’s guitar make up the entirety of the band, and their interplay is what impresses. (Live, they use a drum machine, I assume on the record too.)
The basic set-up is that Miller riffs like crazy, while Krauss goes all out too. She brings a slight pop catchiness to the mix. Imagine M.I.A. with an electric guitarist. There are a couple of tracks, like “Run The Heart,” where Krauss sings like she’s the guitar, riffing with her voice, while Miller plays more atmospherically behind her. Some songs they trade back and forth, like “Riot Rhythm” or “Crown On The Ground.” Subtle, but they are not doing the exact same thing in every song. It hints to me that they may be capable of changing things up as they move on.
The songs touch on a lot of young topics: best friends, straight As, cowboys & Indians, boyfriends, braces. However, the lyrics don’t take place in, say, high school, but from later on, looking back. Krauss seems to be using the act of remembering to remind that, hey it can be stormy when young. It’s nostalgiac, but looked at as sincerely and real as one should. That said, the lyrics are pretty much the last thing to focus on with Sleigh Bells. I hate to write that, I always like to give them the thought they deserve. They are entertaining, but for me, they get lost beneath the music.
While I definitely think Treats is a killer, I am left wondering about its staying power. This style of music could lose its draw when there’s a second album just like it. Or might it eventually sound dated? Right now, it works because Sleigh Bells is right now. Looking back at 2010 though, they were a highlight.