Who said everythings been done? I distinctly recall a scene from HBOs lauded series Six Feet Under in which two pretentious artists argue back and forth about how everything has already been done and that everything that is created in any facet of art is a recreation of something already done before. The consensus of the conversation was that originality is dead. Well, I am going to have to respectfully disagree with HBOs fictional artists. The proof to back my argument? Sleigh Bells Treats.
Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss dont waste their time with giving us their take on popular indie music. They dont take something great and re-make it to suit a more commercial audience (i.e. MGMT attempting to make of Montreal for teens, Muse making Radiohead for dummies). They dont regurgitate the same old things we so often hear from new bands. They give us something new to consider, and that is why this is a fantastic album. Every track takes you into previously unexplored territory, and each track leaves you begging for more of this new sensation.
Use of simple sampling/bass-heavy electronic beats, multiplied by Derek Millers good old fashioned guitar work, all intermingled with Alexis Krausss sometimes sweet, sometimes harsh vocals make for a sound previously undiscovered. Its heavy, its catchy, its sexy, and its sweet: the soundtrack to your summer has arrived. There is something about hearing something completely original, or something completely new to you that is enchanting beyond words. Think about the first time you heard anything by Animal Collective. Your thoughts were probably akin to mine: What on earth is this? These are the noises a mental outpatient has nightmares about. So why do I like it so much? Whats happening to me? Given, Sleigh Bells is considerably less experimental than Animal Collective, but the comparison stands in terms of originality. This is something youve never heard before and this is something thats going to grow on you. Hard.
Sleigh Bells are quite the success story. In a nutshell, Derek met Alexis while he was waiting on her table in Brooklyn last September and they got to talking about music. One thing led to another and they formed a band that blew us all away at CMJ this past winter and have been on a whirlwind trip ever since. They released an impressive set of demos, 2HELLWU, a few months after their inception that was filled with goodies and kept all watching for their next move.
Well, Treats, is their next move, apparently, and the album is just another piece in a long list of evidence that proves that having friends in high places never hurts. M.I.A. picked these guys up without hesitation and whatever she prescribed to this duo worked with frightening force. They took a few tracks off 2HELLWU and gave them the M.I.A. treatment. Five of the seven tracks from that demo made the cut for the LP, but each has been tweaked (mostly for the better) in some way. Demo favorites Crown On The Ground, A/B Machines, and Infinity Guitars all make up this effort, under their same name and with little or no changes made. The other two, however, are such vast re-workings that they required new names. The first, Kids, formerly Beach Girls, sports a much more elaborate intro, and more powerful guitar/bass hits and a more organized moaning/spoken word section by Krauss. It’s a major improvement on a song that was already pretty solid. The second track changed didnt need any reworking, as it was arguably the best track from the set of demos, but the creators felt differently. Rill Rill, formerly Ring Ring, is re-worked only slightly, but is improved through a much clearer sample and better placed bass hits. Overall, the demo is well represented and the re-works sound better than ever.
Entirely new tracks do not fail to impress, either. Treats kicks off with its most impressive track new track Tell Em that sets the pace for the rest of the album. Big samples, noisy guitar, and infectious vocals do their magic in exemplifying exactly what Sleigh Bells are all about. Other notables include the absurdly catchy melodic Run The Heart, heavy-hitter Riot Rhythm and epic album closer/title track Treats. These four tracks add to the already standing five tracks to make for an incredibly solid album. However, there are two strangely forgettable tracks. Rachel and Straight As are two songs that not only feel weak amidst their competitors, but are outright boring, which is strange given the quality of the remainder of the album.
This albums going to find haters a-plenty, but would it be art if it didnt? Many have already spoken out against it, citing monotony, obnoxiousness, and lack of staying power as the album’s flaws. Rather than rebutting any of those arguments individually, Ill produce one umbrella statement to address all of them. Its different, and that makes people uncomfortable. People like normalcy. They like to feel comfortable. And when something new is thrown at them, rarely is there a good reaction initially. People didnt love Kid A at first, but check back with those same people today. As the old adage says, Rome wasnt built in a day. Im willing to wager that those involved in building Rome didnt accept the blueprints as gospel in a day, either. Greatness comes with time. Treats is loud, its fast, and its fun. Enjoy it.