The early rap on Sleigh Bells’ debut, Treats, is that it sounds like nothing else. I’d put it another way: It sounds like everything. I hear the bleacher-pounding thunder of arena rock, the snarky wit of punk, the rhythmic groove of hardcore, the club-thud of dance and hip-hop, the messy energy of L.A. noise, the quirky experimentation of Chicago art rock, and even a buried (if intermittent) top-40 pop sensibility. Which is maybe why the record frequently makes me think of another high-fun mash-up master: Girl Talk. That’s not to say both are working in the same genre, exactly, or that they’re of equal quality — I think Girl Talk’s pop collages are ultimately a lot less satisfying — just that they share a similarly kinetic let’s-shake-our-asses-and-pump-our-fists-and-let-it-all-hang-out vibe.
In other words, it’s a lot of very immediate fun. But can it last? In part, the question is how long the band will be able to keep up the pace; just about every track on Treats aims to definitively blow you away. It’s an album full set-openers and set-closers. A string of home-run swings is always good for a cheap thrill (especially if they’re mostly successful), but it’s not easily sustainable.
But even if Treats turns out to be an amusing throwaway, it’s one of the best I’ve heard in a while. And pop music doesn’t always have to be lasting to be great; done right, disposability can be a virtue. In a better musical world, “A/B Machines,” or maybe “Riot Rhythm,” would be the universal song of the summer, and that would be enough.