Every once in a while a new album comes out that sounds like nothing else. Sometimes these albums break new ground in an ambient and sparse way, with lilts in each song that accentuate the sublime subtleties hidden in each track (e.g. The Field - From Here We Go Sublime). Sometimes these albums break new ground by pitting together instruments and sounds that work in such awesome harmony that it's a wonder it was never accomplished before (e.g. Arcade Fire - Funeral). And then sometimes these albums roar so ferociously in your ear that at first listen they come off as raw, unfiltered noise that was designed to annoy rather than entertain. Sleigh Bell's debut album Treats is that such album.
Never before have I had so much pleasure from listening to an album that was just so damn noisy. And that's really what Treats is: pleasurable, non-stop, noise, that is equal parts harmonious as it is discordant. How Sleigh Bells managed to wrangle harmony into its distortion heavy tracks is a wonder to me, yet they exist in splendor - the secret ingredient that makes an otherwise noisy album full of wonder and soul.
Sleigh Bells is a two-member act: Derek Miller an ex-punk band-member, and Alexis Krauss an ex-girl band-member. Together they have broken ground on new musical territory that I see as being near-impossible to replicate. They are housed on the label N.E.E.T., M.I.A.'s label, a pairing which makes great sense. In many ways Sleigh Bells have expanded on M.I.A.'s characteristic drum heavy sound: at times more experimental and at times more accessible.
On the track Rill Rill we find Sleigh Bells at their most pop-heavy. A guitar riff that lazily sways is looped throughout the song, giving it a breezy atmosphere and care-free attitude. With the guitar loop is a drum track that leaves me envious: on each third beat a strong snap is heard that gives stability to an otherwise wandering song, allowing the listener to groove without fear of losing their place. The pop-vocals supplied by Krauss are breathy and light, with a touch of soul that will have you singing along at the top of your voice. This track is a pure, wonderful dream.
But really the whole album is a dream. One that roars and blazes without pause or fear. You'll start listening to the album with the volume turned up to 10 and end up turning it down to 2 by the last track yet still feel it pounding into your cranium. And you'll love it too, that is, after you’ve downed a few pain-killers.
[audio:Sleigh Bells - 07 - Rill Rill.mp3|titles=Rill Rill]
ABC's Amplified: Sleigh Bells
Sleigh Bells - Infinity Guitars [Live Performance]