Sleigh Bells, the darlings of the Pitchfork readin’ skinny jean wearin’ demographic have seemingly been pre-ordained by bloggers the world over as ‘the next big thing’, a tag which so often leads to promising musicians being crushed by the weight of their own hype and expectations. Lucky then that Treats, the first full length release by Brooklyn noise-pop duo, is one of the most arresting debut albums of 2010 so far.
This record certainly packs a punch. It is a hybrid of electronic beats, piercing vocals and clean, soaring guitar riffs creating a distinct combination all to itself. Derek Miller (chief songwriter and guitarist) and Alexis Krauss (vocals) obviously aren’t the first act to merge musical styles and play in the other playground like this but unlike a lot of other efforts (Blakrock, for example) this doesn’t sound like a hip hop duo experimenting in other environs, or vice versa, but a deliberate effort to find a happy medium between rock and hip hop. ‘Tell ‘Em’ opens the album in a brash fashion with the vocals, beat and guitar all fighting each other for prominence in the mix and, a couple of minutes into it, it becomes plainly obvious that this isn’t background music but something demanding your full attention.
‘Riot Rhythm’ and ‘Infinity Guitars’ continue in the same trend, owners of a distinctive dance-punk swagger. Despite the bombastic frenzy that this album can be, don’t be fooled into thinking that there isn’t a place on Treats for melody either. ‘Rill Rill’, arguably the catchiest of the 11 tracks, is a much more measured and genre-specific song than some of its colleagues but it never abandons the ‘feel’ that Sleigh Bells have pollinated into this album and that is, in a nutshell, the whole appeal of it. But where Sleigh Bells really excel is in their ability to not make this fusion sound unnatural or forced but to make it sound like a perfect musical marriage.