1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 208

Treats, by Sleigh Bells
Suggested by Rob Wagner

Sleigh Bells are my first foray into the world of Noise Pop. On balance, I enjoyed it, which I found rather surprising.

If you’re unaware, Noise Pop or Noise Rock is a subgenre of indie rock stemming from the mid Eighties. It’s heavily feedbacked and dissonant, but with a more contemporary pop song structure. It harnesses experimental sounds, white noises, distortions and droning. The Wiki claims the sound can be hazy, swirling and narcotic, but also bright, angular and challenging.

Seriously, what the hell have I become?

From the discordant stabbing guitars to the heavily treated buzz-clanging drums, it seems that Sleigh Bells are heavy on the Noise part of Noise Pop. All the oddities of the genre are here, red in tooth and claw. The guitars have a metal feel and a Metal feel, with the lower-case m a quality of the sound and the upper-case M a philosophy. The fairy-tale female vocal hints at pop, but with an indistinct, wispy vibe. If I’m kind, there’s an echoing Kate Bush feel. If I’m feeling unkind, she sounds a little like Randy Marsh performing as Lorde.

The songs are short, sharp, and shocking. There’s a surprising scope between them, with distinct styles in each. The opener Tell ‘Em, for example, has a Hendrix feel, albeit Hendrix being played in an air raid. Kids feels more Drum and Bass in places, while Run The Heart has a retro scifi aesthetic. Infinity Guitars has a more straightforward punk feel, and A/B Machines sounds like a revving supercar test-driving through a steelworks. My standout Rill Rill is the most melodic and straightforward song on the album, emphasising the Pop over the Noise to great effect.

Every track has something to offer, if you go in with eyes wide and with tempered expectations. Actually, there’s one exception: the rather dull and repetitive Rachel. Aside from that, it’s an oddball project that’s certainly interesting. Treats is, indeed, a treat, and I give it 7/10.

So it appears I’m a fan of Noise Pop. This challenge is eye-opening, to say the least. Had this been suggested by a friend pre-project, it’s unlikely I’d have enjoyed it, but with so much new music consumed in such a short space of time, I do find I’m drawn to the outside-the-box offerings. I’m a mere fifth of the way down my road, and my tastes are morphing and mutating each day. Today I’m embracing Noise Pop, and I’m generally warming to Prog. Will tomorrow see the Growl Breakthrough or the Hip Hop Resurgence? Maybe after Christmas I’ll be primed for another few hours of the Dementia Ballad from The Caretaker.

I’m excited. As the man said, the times they are a-changin’. When I get to Album 1000, who knows where I’ll be?

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