Usually here at Metal Insider headquarters, we’re impervious to hype, especially of the indie hipster variety. One man’s Beach House is another’s Animal Collective, which is fine if you’re into that sort of thing. But the here-today, gone later-today style of blogs named after farming implements and their ilk breathlessly proclaiming a different band “the beeeest” every week are generally a constant vacuum of catch phrases and music largely forgotten after heard once or twice.
The latest band on the receiving end of hipster hype is Sleigh Bells, and after actually hearing it, we don’t hate it. That may be because the mastermind of the duo, Derek Miller, was an integral part of pioneering metalcore Poison the Well, having played guitar on the band’s first three albums. If you’re expecting You Come Before You: Part Deux, or inclined to hate anything that isn’t metal, Sleigh Bells are not the band for you. The sounds heard on Treats, the act’s debut album, are a little all over the place, in a good way. Miller wrote most of the album on a laptop, and singer Alexis Krauss is a school teacher. So yeah, there are some guitars, but they’re chopped up, layered over electronic beats and Krauss’ cheerleader-like vocals on songs like “Infinity Guitars.” It sounds kind of like if M.I.A. listened to hardcore in addition to world music, if that makes any sense. Our friend Maura Johnston at The Awl sums up what we like about it and why it separates itself from its indie contemporaries:
One of the things that I bemoaned about “indie” for so long was its overly mannered nature — bands that would garner accolades from critics seemed to me like music made for droning one’s life away in a vaguely creative cubicle farm, full of beautiful, correctly executed moments that had zero resonance except to serve as placeholders until the next batch of aesthetes came along. Sleigh Bells feels like it was created as a direct protest against this type of music — the songs that spill out of Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss are vital and fun, maxing speakers’ volume in a bone-shaking way that can’t help but transfer outward to the rest of one’s person.
It’s probably also worth noting that many of the loudest songs on this record bear more than a passing sonic resemblance to the scrapey guitars and hyperloud posturing of metal. In a time when women all over pop have been relegated to roles that are predicated on their hewing to gender roles as much as possible, it’s especially gratifying to see Krauss just going for it rock-style, banging her head in concert and howling along with the squealing guitars.
Treats is available via MP3 now, and will be released physically Tuesday, June 1. Check out a demo of their song “Crown on the Ground” after the jump.
Photo: Punk Photo