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Album Review

by Sleigh Bells

Mom & Pop

Review Date
Reviewed by
Gareth Meade

Sleigh Bells are the very embodiment of immediacy. There is nothing delicate or restrained about the duo and they most certainly aren’t going to reveal themselves, like a butterfly from its chrysalis, upon repeat listens. It’s all there on display from the moment you hit play. Sleigh Bells are a loud joyful mess that have an all important, but also rarely achieved, ace up their sleeve. They will immediately capture your attention and they will firmly retain it until they’ve had their way with you.

So it should be no surprise then that their debut album Treats is a pretty serious “fuck you” to subtlety and nuance. The pounding percussion and dual lead break at the beginning of ‘Tell ‘Em’ isn’t a welcoming mat so much as it is a hood that’s being thrown over your head as you get bundled into the back of a van. There’s a strange amalgam of elements on the song that don’t quite make it electronic, rock or hip-hop; something that ultimately can be said of the entire album. It’s almost like The Ting Tings are the pathetically goody-two-shoes angel on one of your shoulders, while Sleigh Bells are the sinister, rebellious and ultimately much more fun devil on the other.

It’s a shame that so many songs are recycled from the bands earlier EP, but with their star rising so quickly, there probably wasn’t much time to capitalise on that with an album of all new material. ‘Crown on the Ground’, ‘A/B Machines’ and ‘Infinity Guitars’ are still the pummeling spectacles they were, but only the latter’s coda is noticeably reworked, albeit at such a level of intensity that your speakers and your ears are simply not safe. ‘Rill Rill’ is the one moment of respite on the album. Sleigh Bells dial back the theatrics but don’t lose any of their appeal. While it might be the only example of that, it’s still proof that they’re not subsisting on a single idea on Treats.

Even at a brief 30 minutes, there is some filler on the album; most notably ‘Stragiht A’s’ which loses the rhythm and instead injects more volume. It is a rare misstep though, and if skipped only gets you closer to the self-titled closer which rounds out the album much the same way as it began; indefinable but absorbingly visceral. It probably won’t take you long to decide whether or not you like Sleigh Bells after you’ve heard them, but for those of us it does appeal to, we’ll never understand those that it doesn’t.

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