Sleigh Bells Offers Tricks And Plenty Of 'Treats' On Their Debut

Sleigh Bells


Released on Jul 20, 2010


You know what’s great about waiting tables? You might find your musical soulmate. That’s exactly what happened to Derek E. Miller when he took Alexis Krauss’ (and her mom’s) order at the restaurant he worked at. It may seem a bit premature to christen Derek E. Miller and Alexis Krauss soulmates—given that they’ve only released one album together—but Treats is the kind of album that causes one to make grand statements like that.

While they certainly take inspiration from their label founder M.I.A., this duo manages to infuse their music with precise and controlled energy, which is a very unique trait to possess in the noise pop genre. Yes, this is music meant for the world’s greatest dance party, but Krauss’ wonderful ability to produce both primal and elegant vocals keeps the ridiculous beats and insane guitar riffs in check.

Give “Tell ‘Em”, the opening track, a listen for a great example of this. The instrumental part is fairly hardcore, and sounds both like a techno and an industrial track. But then Krauss starts singing, and her angelic voice completely grounds the ray-gun sounds and guitar parts screeching in the background. The result is a great opening track that is an apt predictor of what the listener is in for.

Time for MGMT to step aside—I’ve got a new favorite track called “Kids.” I love the kiddy spoken-word interludes, and it sounds like someone is banging a bag of coins to keep the beat. Sure, that’s nothing new, but they make it sound exciting and inventive.  Krauss’ voice maintains its ethereal quality, but she offers a little preview of the heavy breathing and grunting that will rock your world later in the album. “Infinity Guitars” is when she starts to experiment a little bit, offering a different, punkier tone. While there’s no question that her voice is stunning, I definitely prefer her in these more primal registers. Rather than offering a contrast to the hardcore music, she’s complementing it while standing out even more in the process. 

“Run the Heart”, “Rachel”, and “Rill Rill” show that Sleigh Bells can do way more than get people to shake their asses. “Run the Heart” showcases their talent at creating hypnotic, slower tracks, and I challenge anyone to find a greater example of using breath as a musical instrument than on the first few seconds “Rachel.” “Rill Rill” is probably the cleanest sounding track on the album, but it helps to prove that the entertainment factor of Sleigh Bells doesn’t come solely from their more visceral tracks.

I’m not kidding when I say that I wanted to write about “Crown on the Ground” since the first time I heard it. There’s no way that I can do it justice, so know this: if you don’t get this album (which, if you don’t, just keep that to yourself), at least listen to this track. It’s the ultimate anthem about humility, but I find myself way too busy dancing and wishing that I was as cool as Alexis Krauss to pay all that much attention to the lyrics. This track has an energy that can’t be pinpointed—is it the ridiculous instrumentation? Krauss’ desperate-sounding, gasping vocals? The general beat? I’m going to play it safe and say that it’s all of that working together that makes this song impossible to only listen to once.

High Point

“CROWN ON THE GROUND”, Y’ALL. Honestly, I’ve listened to this song for nearly a month straight, and it still give me chills.

Low Point

Unless you stick to the middle three tracks of the album, (“Run the Heart”, “Rachel”, and “Rill Rill”) this album doesn’t do much for those looking to just relax and have something nice playing in the background.

Posted by Alyssa Vincent on Aug 03, 2010 @ 7:19 pm

Sleigh Bells, treats, kids, crown on the ground, rill rill, review