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Album Review

One of 2010’s most attention-getting debuts, Sleigh Bells' Treats comes on strong. Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss craft a sound that’s all climax, that sounds like cheap stereos turned up to 11 and boom cars that might actually explode. Nearly all the parts of all the songs on Treats are saturated with distortion that makes them feel even louder than they actually are (which is pretty loud to begin with). Yet their approach is far from lo-fi, and it’s worlds apart from the kind of noise pop that looks back to the halcyon days of four-track recording in the ‘90s. Instead, Sleigh Bells claim whatever sounds loud and shiny for their own: their beats can come from electro, rap, or a drumline; Miller's guitars often sound like they were stolen from stadium rock; and cheaply sampled sounds that could have come from toy instruments pop up more often than not. On top of all these blaring and blurring sounds is Krauss' unaffected, ultra-girly voice, which acts as the frosting on Treats, sweetening it and holding it all together. It’s an approach that’s as powerful as it is unlikely — her voice could be too saccharine in another setting, and the music could be contrived and too abrasive without her presence. Sleigh Bells have got their formula down and they stick to it throughout Treats, to often stunning effect. Nearly every track here sounds like an event. “Riot Rhythm” is stark and driven by a drumline rhythm; “Crown on the Ground” sounds like a cheerleader chant backed by a sound system; and “A/B Machines,” with its surfy guitars and siren-like synth drills, could be a Chemical Brothers song covered by No Age and what nu-rave should have sounded like. The fondness and flair Sleigh Bells show for recontextualizing and reconfiguring on songs like this and “Straight A’s,” which throws some metal guitar into the mix, make it easy to hear why M.I.A. signed the band to her label (and “Rill Rill,” which samples Funkadelic’s “Can You Get to That,” echoes her own surprise hit “Paper Planes”). On quieter songs like “Rachel” and the soulful “Run the Heart,” Miller and Krauss switch up their approach a bit, allowing her vocals to be the focus of the songs rather than a decoration. Given that Sleigh Bells' sound is so big — and undeniably exciting — songwriting falls lower on the band’s list of priorities than taking all the dramatic moments from everyone’s favorite songs and turning them into songs in their own right. That doesn’t stop Treats from having a boldness, immediacy, and sense of fun that’s missing from too much other music.

Customer Reviews


Bar a couple of tracks (namely Rachel & Straight A's) this album is the start of BIG things for Sleigh Bells. Top tracks I would say are A/B Machines (Makes you want to dance so hard you crash through the floor), Infinity Guitars (Nice Riffs), Rill Rill (Summer chill-out track) and Crown On The Ground (Club Anthem). If you get this record your life WILL be better.
Go on...

This is where you want to be...

I'll go ahead and make the call: This is the most important and necessary album of 2010. It's the "Merriweather Post Pavilion" of this year, without a doubt. Feel free to offer an argument to the contrary by December 31st... but I'll surely win.


I often do not write reviews, but am just in love with this album after one day! I first heard "Kids" on Radio One and thought SoundHound had tagged it incorrectly between the name of the song and band. ("Kids" by Sleigh Bells just didn't sound right compared to what I was actually hearing.) A day later and this album is all I've pretty much listened to, it's like MIA meets MGMT meets Go! Team.

I think the iTunes review has it right in that the thing that really drives this album is the matching of the vocals to music, both of which could seem terribly out of place if used elsewhere... as it stands the two together are fantastic and this is easily one of my favourite albums of the past several years.


Formed: 2008 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Songwriter/producer Derek Miller and vocalist Alexis Krauss comprise Sleigh Bells, an experimental pop duo that began earning its first fans after a breakout performance at the 2009 CMJ Festival. The musicians formed the group in New York, where Miller (a Florida native and onetime member of hardcore act Poison the Well) had relocated in the hopes of starting a new project. He found his ideal partner in Krauss, a former vocalist for the teenaged girl group Rubyblue, and the two began creating a batch...
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Treats, Sleigh Bells
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Customer Ratings