Let’s admit it, there’s something satisfying in letting loose and thrashing your head around until your hair is in a sweaty mess. Whether you do it behind closed doors or out in public, here’s a little something you can rage to: Sleigh Bells. No, I’m not talking about the classic jingling Christmas instrument, I’m talking about the heavy metal dance-pop duo from Brooklyn. Yes, I really did just say heavy metal and pop in the same sentence.
After months of internet hype, Sleigh Bells finally released a full-fledged album mainly compromised of their earlier leaked demos that had earned them so much buzz. With the help of artist M.I.A., Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss delivers their debut album “Treats,” which is filled from beginning to end with densely distressed guitar riffs, heavy headed beats, and a calming mezzo-soprano voice to counterbalance the wave of cacophony.
Both being veterans in the music world, Miller took the snarl sound of his previous hardcore band Poison the Well and mixed it with Krauss’s formative chirpy sound from her young days in the pop group Rubyblue to hone a sound all to their own. Fusing their contrasting backgrounds, Miller delivers infectious distorted guitar riffs coupled by hip-hop and electro-inspired beats while Krauss balances the sound with delicate layers of becalming vocals. Be careful though, if you allow yourself to get lulled away by their music, you might just find yourself rummaging through the last 30 minutes of your life wondering what the hell you just experienced, or you just might find yourself wondering how you managed to blow out all your speakers.
At first, the album “Treats” might sound like an abrasive bundle of loud obscenity, but after a couple of listens, it becomes evident that there are catchy melodies and rhythms to each song. Take, for instance, their leaked demo “Crown on the Ground,” the song that elevated them from unknown to Pitchfork hype. With it’s punishingly loud opening, the brash guitar riffs and clashing cymbals on “Crown on the Ground” will have you impulsively head-banging like a true heavy metal lover. As the migraine starts kicking in from all the hair tossing, the song will suddenly break as Krauss comes in chiming nearly indistinguishable lyrics, and before you know it, your shoulders will start moving in motion with the movement of the song.
The track “Rill Rill,” a definite summer jam that needs to be blasted from a car stereo with the windows down, reiterates the band’s amour for layering contradicting sounds. Sampling the acoustic guitar riff from Funkadelic’s song “Can You Get to That,” Miller wrote the song so that it’s instrumentals sounded extremely compressed and distorted, yet countering the sea storm of rough clamor is the anchor of Krauss’s charming voice as she sings “ring ring call them up, tell them about the new trends.”
Filled to the brim with laden tracks, “Treats” offers listeners an excuse to get sweaty and go berserk. The album opener “Tell ‘Em” is an instant attention grabber with its full blown shotgun riffs and snappy electro beats that will surely have your speakers pleading for sympathy. “Infinity Guitar” molds itself around a very filtered sound with Krauss chanting between riffs, while “Kids” immortalizes the band’s love for double distortion and rapid counts.
To quiet things down, “Rachel” and “Run the Heart” take after a shoe-gaze appeal with minimal guitar distortions, and instead an emphasis on Krauss’s wispy vocals to bring to the table two tracks that deviate from the overall sound of the album. To close the album, the title track “Treats” is a summation of everything Miller and Krauss tried to squeeze into their 30-minute debut album: energetic, wild and climatic.
Despite having hazy inaudible lyrics, the tracks off Sleigh Bell’s debut album are sure to be summer anthems for the few and the many who find their sound intriguing. Serving justice to their earlier leaked demos, “Treats” offers a strong debut for the Miller and Krauss, justifying the hype surrounding the duo.