Few things annoy me more than having to confirm the buzz-worthiness of some band the bloggers latch onto from the moment they push record, but in this case that’s just too damn bad. NYC’s Sleigh Bells, a duo comprising former hardcore guitarist Derek Miller and former teen-pop singer Alexis Krauss, has been promoted by the likes of Pitchfork, the New Yorker, Brooklyn Vegan, etc., since first single “Crown on the Ground” (included on Treats) dropped last year. The song’s sound: a repeated squealing (you might say irritating) guitar line and a purposefully shabby machine-made drum beat obscuring the kind of sugary vocals you’d expect from someone described as a “former teen-pop singer” — she’s singing something about a “crown on the ground,” I think. Each simple element is copied and pasted to form overlapping layers nearly four minutes in length, with the relationship between them changing just enough to keep you from clawing your face off. It’s damn catchy, though, and the product of several of self-styled “indie” rock’s most predominate trends. This sub-subgenre was bound to happen, but Sleigh Bells seem to be the first to fully develop it. “Tell ’Em” opens the album with a loop of what sounds like a five-second snippet of Jimi Hendrix’s national anthem segmented by percussion courtesy of an 808 somebody let a preschool borrow for a few weeks, stacked on top of Krauss, who’s quite possibly jumping double-dutch while she sing-raps. Honestly there’s no need to analyze the album track by track, because that description (with some slight variation on the guitar bit) fits nearly all of Treats. It’d be easy to hate, but just as easy to like depending on your feelings about Go! Team, Girl Talk, and Gwen Stefani in full-blown cheerleader mode. The question is whether anyone will be listening to this in six months. I personally suspect I’ll have moved on.
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