Ratatat and Sleigh Bells

LP4, and Treats (XL)

Phases & Stages

Sleigh Bells

Treats (N.E.E.T. Recordings)


LP4 (XL)

Never mind the hype. Sleigh Bells offers little more than a Barbie version of M.I.A., fitting given that the Brooklyn duo signed to the controversial rapper's vanity label. Producer Derek Miller crafts aggressive instrumentals with street-sweeper riffs and dirty house beats, as if trying to single-handedly end the loudness wars, while Alexis Krauss cheers from the sidelines with bubblegum vocals. It's the Ting Tings amplified past 11, and the two never stray far from the formula. There are a few cheap thrills on their debut, most notably the drum line siren alarm "Riot Rhythm," stadium-guitar march of "Tell 'Em," and more subdued "Rill Rill," which samples Funkadelic's "Can You Get to That" to the same effect as M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes," but such moments fade faster than a sugar rush. Strip away the distortion and vocals, and you land in the same neighborhood as fellow Brooklyn twopiece Ratatat. LP4 is every bit as unimaginative as its title suggests, picking up quite literally where 2008's lackluster LP3 left off. "Mahalo" was even issued as the B-side to "Shiller," while "Grape Juice City," with its 8-bit arpeggios and bongo percussion, could pass for a remix of "Mirando," not unlike the slow-motion jam "We Can't Be Stopped." Mike Stroud and Evan Mast have become too complacent within their signature sound, an increasingly fractured mosaic of slippery glam harmonies, harpsichord, and electro-pop beats ("Drugs" et al.). Ratatat excels in the context of Kid Cudi's Man on the Moon, but LP4 ultimately is an unnecessary sequel and box office cash-in.

(Both) **

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Entanglement (Record Review)

Kahron Spearman, Dec. 13, 2019

Levitation Album Reviews
Dallas Acid
The Spiral Arm (Record Review)

Kevin Curtin, Nov. 8, 2019

More by Austin Powell
SXSW Music Spotlight: Ural Thomas & the Pain
SXSW Music Spotlight: Ural Thomas & the Pain
Portland soul singer gets his second act

March 11, 2022

Spoon’s Britt Daniel confronts <I>Lucifer on the Sofa</I>
Spoon’s Britt Daniel confronts Lucifer on the Sofa
Q&A on his return to Austin and making a real rock record

Feb. 11, 2022


Sleigh Bells, Ratatat

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle