First-Listen Review: Sleigh Bells' Treats

I took some time to listen to the new Sleigh Bells album, Treats, in it’s entirety on NPR.

So, let’s begin. One track at a time.

1. “Tell ‘Em”: Didn’t really win me over. Still annoying. But at least it’s pacing itself.

2. “Kids”: Kind of intriguing opening machine-like riff. Beat is very similar-no, wait this is the beat from “Crown On The Ground”. It’s at a slower tempo here. Hm. I wonder how many people in the world will mistake this song for MGMT’s “Kids” on their iPods/mp3 players. The layered vocals sound a bit annoying. Who let the 15-year old girls in the studio?

3. “Riot Rhythm”: Okay, this simple riff is kinda cool. I might try to learn it tonight. Derek’s guitar sounds cool. There’s a sort of ‘militant’ vibe with all of the cheers to ‘march’ over the simple cadence drums. Okay, really digging the guitars on here. Good vibes near the end. This song is kind of fun in a ‘singing with your electric parrot’ kind of way. I wonder if Sleigh Bells feel like pirates on this song.

4. “Infinity Guitars”: Beginning guitars threw me for a loop in a Queens of the Stone Age kind of way. What is Alexis singing about? Straight wars? Straight men? Cowboys? Indians? Ripped soles? Red friends? I am confus. With a name like “Infinity Guitars”, you would think that there would be some intense delay on the guitars–WHOA! Ahem, “shit gets real” at 2:02. Good song. Definitely my favorite so far.

5. “Run The Heart”: Looped whirring whistle intro into ambient keys into some deep bass. This could be the ‘soft’ song on the album. It occurs to me that I can’t really go after this band for their semi-boring beats. They’re merely the foundation for all the elements that this band piles onto it. This was a rather short tune, but nice.

6. “Rachel”: Possibly the album’s ‘ballad’? Bit of a sci-fi vibe going on with the synths and ambient drone-ish noise in the background. I like how they work the vocals in on this song. Just noticed that the beat is practically nonexistent save for a lone tambourine in the distance. This song is an interesting mix of grim and triumphant. Almost like seeing the sun after the passing of a nasty rain cloud.

7. “Rill Rill”: Talk about ‘change of pace’. Opens with the lyric ‘have a heart’. Hah. Okay, so what makes this song such a different tune? There’s ringing piano, acoustic guitar, bells?(ha), and NO electric guitar. I’m reminded a bit of “Jaykub”, Gruff Rhys’ contribution to Dangermouse and Sparklehorse’s music/art project with David Lynch, Dark Night Of The Soul. This song shares a few of the same vibes.

8. “Crown On The Ground”: Ladies and Gentleman, we’ve arrived at the song that started it all. It sounds like this song’s received a good polishing treatment but not to fret, the same distorted, make-your-ears-blow-up sound is still there. “Set-set-set that crown on the ground and-a Oh a-oh a-oh a-oh-a-oh-a-oh a-oh a-oh”.

9. “Straight As”: This song gets an F- . Hehe, just kidding. It starts out with some gnarly garage guitars and kicks into the album’s shortest and hardest rocking tune. This knocks “Crown”‘s crown on the ground and smashes it with it’s guitar. This sounds like Pre, Polysics, and Refused all had a baby and someone took an old, shitty tape recorder into the hospital room just as they spanked the damn thing. I’d also like to point out that the both the vocals and guitars sound like seals at times. Yeah, try not hearing that now. That’s for you. You’re welcome.

10. “A/B Machines”: Another one of the early demos we’ve come to know and love…a lot. I still get a kick out of the hook on this song. Simple, but effective.

11. “Treats”: And now, the title track…at the end of the record no less. Some delayed guitar. Sounds like a sped up mix between the intros to “Baba O’Riley and “How Soon is Now?” used as an intro for an F-Zero game. Some more ‘formal’ sounding guitars fading in…sounds like the album’s about to get married in space. Something is being sung about a ‘drummer boy’, I think. Space alien drummer boys? Epic-sounding, but a pretty tame end given the intensity of the entire record.

I’m going to be lazy/save myself some work in the future and make this my review of the record. I enjoyed it. Some parts, as you read, weren’t quite to my fancy. However, it’s a decent-sounding debut for the band. I’ll even go as far as to say this is a recommended listen.

Treats is out May 11th on N.E.E.T. Recordings.


@ N.E.E.T. Recordings

2 Comments on “First-Listen Review: Sleigh Bells' Treats”

  1. Rob says:

    You should do more reviews like this. I like the play-by-play.

  2. The track-by-track review is really good. I’m not convinced with Sleigh Bells – I know they’re signed to her label but I just think MIA when I hear them. And I’d rather stick on KALA or Arular than listen to this.

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