New Criticals

Sure, I'm using "great" kind of loosely here. Sleigh Bells are not Otis Redding or EMA or anything I've ever been particularly touched by emotionally. But that's fine, because they did produce something I, at least, had never heard before – roughly the sound of taping "Hollaback Girl" off the radio and playing REALLY LOUD guitars over it – and their first LP, Treats, is fucking exhilarating for it. It was a kind of limited/limiting look, but it was/is a REALLY GOOD one; five years on, listening to Treats while walking down the street still makes me want to punch a cop and then parkour the fuck out of there. If you were to ask me, as I often ask myself in the shower or while spacing out at work, "Say, Mr. Tremblay, what band would you sell your soul to be in?" Sleigh Bells would be at least in the top five, because if just listening to these candy-addled brain-jackhammers so quickens my animal spirits, I can't even imagine how much fun playing them live is. It'd be like being in a band with Lex Luger, and I'm hard-pressed at the moment to come up with anything tighter than that.

And then there's "Rill Rill," nestled sneakily into the middle of the album like a crisp white polo under a ratty leather jacket. "Rill Rill" isn't bad per se, it's just not all that memorable. Built around a Funkadelic sample (promising!), it churns that reference into the vaporous laid back vibes that recall the Beach Boys to people who don't actually listen to the Beach Boys – a facsimile of post-Soft Bulletin Flaming Lips, if you will. As a song, it's barely a thing, which is disappointing considering how much time its surrounding tunes demand attention and GET IT. It's a breathy John Mayer number in the middle of Discharge's greatest hits. Twenty years from now, you'll hear it and be like, "Hey, this kind of sounds like it was in an iPhone commercial," and you'll be right, but even if that weren't literally true, you'd still be kind of right. Right?