This stuff combines all my dirtiest, guilty-pleasure pop secrets into a single, distinct sound with a stylistic aesthetic to match (captured by the awesome bloodstained Keds album art).
In fact, for funsies, why dont we run through that checklist of cheesy things I love?
60s girl-group vocals from a super-hot lady? Yup.
Drippy Rick Springfield synths? Move over, Jessies Girl.
Shreddy, trumped-up glam guitars? In spades.
Crushing beats humping at a jackhammer pace? Throughout!
Alternating cheerleader chants about burning orphanages with sillier playground-crush pop mush fare? The best ever.
Being in a position where theres literally no other band on the planet that sounds the way Sleigh Bells does (The Go! Teams about as close as it gets) Im tempted to say that as long as theres a good two or three singles on each album, they can keep running these elements in together as long as they like and still remain critical and pop darlings.
It seems that most have embraced the utter contrivance of combining such disparate elements into a cohesive, catchy sound trying to imagine guitarist Derek Miller explaining a world where Sleigh Bells occurred by happenstance, while completely fictive, is nothing short of hilarious: Well, Id borrowed Big Blacks old drum machine at a time when Id been really transfixed by the rhythm and meter of songs kids sing while theyre playing jump-rope, when all of a sudden Alexis walked past singing to herself and it just all seemed so organic so why fix whats obviously not broken?
If Reign of Terror (which is an awesome name for an album) somehow distinctly improved on Treats, Im not aware of it. Comparing the two is kinda like comparing apples with ... uh ... apples, to be honest. The formers best chanting comes on Demons (Take it down! Take it down!) and Crush (Make you! Ill break you!), which, while more furious, isnt as overtly over-the-top as Treats Riot Rhythm (Dont stop fighting ... ride the lightning!). Millers guitars sound more likely to have belonged to C.C. DeVille than Brian May at times. Whatever ungodly beat machine they employ is still trying to bash your brain into goop.
As calculated as Miller clearly is, I understand the desire to record an album so similar to their first. If they do want to progress as innovators, Sleigh Bells needs a deeper catalogue of bangers to thrill the hell out of the coked-up kiddos who come to their shows. Its a shrewd, conservative move that will help solidify a flighty audience thats obsessed with immediacy without pissing off critics badly. Because really, whos going to complain about something this badass?
The only track here that seems like it wouldve jived Treats is the final one, D.O.A., (and maybe End of the Line, which forsakes much of the sweetness Treats earned with Rachel and Rill Rill for Regina George-style meanness) which, with its cut the wrists lyric, is clearly about suicide. Its a dark, letdown finish thats also pretty dramatic.
Given that theyre a lot of fun, Sleigh Bells are also as convincing a case there is that pop is a genre, its contrivance and pure ecstatic catchiness in no way limited to assembly line-style manufacture by hired record-label guns.