Sleigh Bells - Treats
Skiiing in on a snowdrift of good feeling, the debut from New York's Sleigh Bells comes laden with electro-pop gifts, all wrapped up in newspaper and string. Our two bell(e)s - Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss - were signed to M.I.A.'s label on the back of a demo, with the blogosphere soon over-excited at the duo's harsh-sounding pop, with its heavy debt to crunk beats and industrial blasts of scuzzy guitar. It's basically The Ting Tings Brooklyn-stylee.
Miller has history with hardcore crew Poison The Well so it comes as no surprise to find guitars to the front and fore, although the riffs are simpler than those in his previous gig. Krauss affects hipster cool, her blankness swapping notions of diva-dom for sexless robotics and breathy distance. 'Rill Rill' samples Funkadelic for a hot summer's day in Central Park vibe that gets close to Go Team territory, a feel replicated in the following track 'Crown on the Ground' where the playground lyrical round defines their street-level operation. 'Infinity Guitars' lifts pretty heavily from the Le Tigre book of shoutiness, while 'Straight A's' takes low-rent thrash, sticks it in the grinder and spits it out, to levels of Riot Grrrl spleen.
'Rachel', one of the few times noise levels are taken down a notch, is built upon stabs of Eurocheese synth and the shimmering 'How Soon Is Now' guitars of the title track promise something more pretty than what results, Krauss' dead-eyed choirgirl vocals offering little human warmth. We won't fall in love with robots until they're able to tell us their problems - and listen to ours. This is where Treats falls down: the lack of softness; it needs a 'Be The One', a 'Lights Out', something to momentarily soothe the ears and prove that there's a beating heart behind the carbonite.
An ear-drum-bursting whisper in the ear. An air-raid siren of brassy intent. A cinder block painted luminous green and pink through the window of Macy's.