Treats, the much, much, much-hyped debut album from Brooklyn electro-whatever duo Sleigh Bells won’t be hitting store shelves until June 22nd but it’s out digitally today, via M.I.A.’s N.E.E.T. label, and you can stream it in its entirety at NPR. It will probably be the first time you’re hearing it, because miraculously, the album didn’t leak—not even a few days before its release date like what usually happens to even the most highly-guarded albums. How’d they manage it? Well, apparently by not sending copies to music writers.
Last week, I emailed the publicist requesting a promo copy, and I was told there weren’t any, that they were finishing the album and releasing it right away. And honestly? I assumed it was bullshit. I immediately started grumbling, thinking, “Yeah right, I bet Pitchfork got a copy…” And who knows, maybe they did. It makes sense that they would have run the High Violet review on Monday, and maybe they just think Dead Weather is a bigger deal than I do, and they’ve got the Sleigh Bells review scheduled for tomorrow. Doubtful, though. I’ve spoken to a bunch of other writers and none of them got copies either.
So suffice to say, the it’s not being treated the same way most albums are treated, and it might turn out to be a stroke of genius. By not giving copies to the people who, frankly, were always going to write about it no matter what, they avoided a sales-killing leak, but by allowing the record to stream today, they assured that we’d still be talking about it in some capacity. The reviews will start to trickle in (far earlier than they should, I’m sure), and rather than dying down, the hype will actually continue to grow—just in time for the slightly longer lead-time publications to get coverage planned for right around the time of the album’s physical release in June, which should compel at least a few people to actually purchase it.
Like the “pay what you want” model Radiohead used for the release of In Rainbows, this isn’t something just any band can get away with, of course. If promo copies of, say, the new Tallest Man on Earth record were sent out, well, then no one would have written about the new Tallest Man on Earth record. But if there’s already a good deal of chattering going on, as there has been about Sleigh Bells for the past six months, then it’s hard to think of a better plan. Even if it means I have to hear it at the same time as everyone else.