Mom + Pop/NEET
Jun 03, 2010 Web Exclusive
Despite a name that evokes thoughts of Christmas kitsch and a stage persona that leaves many cold, Sleigh Bells are here to stay. With the blown-out speaker quality of last year's widely-circulated, under-produced demos ("Ring Ring," "Crown on the Ground," "Beach Girls," "Infinity Guitars") tamed to a more palatable squeal, multi-instrumentalist Derek Miller and vocalist Alexis Krauss have created a delicious summer album, shimmying through the worlds of pop, electro, and hip-hop like a pair of sugar-buzzed kids in a candy store. While the lasting power of Treats past the warm weather months may be questionable, the duo is out to make hay while the sun shines with a high octane combination of combustible beats, finger snaps, cheerleader chants, beat machines, giddy screams, and unfiltered sass.
In the grand tradition of debut albums, Treats still sounds like a band trying to figure out exactly what it is they do. When sticking to their respective strengths (Her: coquettish tough-girl charm. Him: crisp backbeats and crunchy guitars) Treats is downright banging. Sure we've already heard the majority of the best cuts in demo form, but shined to a glossy guilty-pleasure sheen, they paint a pretty picture. The hooks of "Infinity Guitars" are worth revisiting, and even the brainless spoken segments of "Kids" (retooled from the goofy fun of "Beach Girls") are guaranteed to elicit a smile. Sure come autumn every Beverly Hills 90210 come-lately will have optioned "Rill Rill" as their girls-just-wanna-have-fun anthem, but can you really begrudge them an acoustic tune so fluffy it plays like a double mocha straight to the brain? On the opposite side of the coin is the downright genius "A/B Machines," featuring rapped line "Got my A machines on the table/Got my B machines in the drawer" stretched across hypnotic, rapid-fire beats.
Addictive as the highs might be, Treats sags noticeably when Miller and Krauss stray too far from their comfort zones. "Run the Heart" flirts with mediocrity, but is redeemed by Krauss' slinky delivery of promise/threat "You can take a heart/I can take out you." However, even base sexuality can't save "Rachel." The track's heavy breathing opening feels like a trite eleventh hour attempt to save a song marred with lazy instrumentals and generic cooing—the collective discordance creating a gestalt that's decidedly less than the sum of its parts. Meanwhile their aimless and abrasive stab at hardcore, "Straight A's," simply flunks. Thankfully though, the low points are brief and Miller and Krauss connect more than they miss—creating an album that's more sweet than sour. Treats may disappear quickly, but it's sure to leave behind a pleasant buzz. (www.myspace.com/sleighbellsmusic)
Author rating: 7/10
Average reader rating: 9/10