Broken Bells – Broken Bells Review

4/5

‘Broken Bells’ is the self-titled album from the American indie rock band consisting of artist and producer Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse and the lead vocalist and guitarist of The Shins James Mercer. Burton is no stranger to collaborations having produced for Damon Albarn’s side project Gorillaz , Beck, the Black Keys and being one half of funk-soul project Gnarls Barkley with singer Cee-Lo Green. Burton and Mercer have already worked together on the track ‘Insane Lullaby’ from the quintessential album ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ from Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse which when initially released in physical form contained only a blank cd-r but is set for a proper release in June.

We were introduced to the opening song ‘The High Road’ in December of last year and so anyone who has been avidly following updates from this band will be familiar with the track. The combination of Mercer’s sultry vocals and acoustic guitar against Burton’s downtempo hip-hop sweeping analog synths is superb. The following song ‘Vaporize’ beginning simply with the strum of an acoustic leading into some slightly reverbed vocals and then the addition of an electric organ and snares makes for another excellent track.

Other highlights on the album include the bouncy pop track ‘The Ghost Inside’ with a hugely catchy melody delivered in stunning falsetto from Mercer and the addition of a hand clap to the synthetic drumbeat with soaring synths and ‘Sailing to Nowhere’ with its sense of yearning and a complex mix of computer modulated tones and a switching from electronic to acoustic to piano ending with deeply moving strings.

Some critics have heralded the album as innovative and a prime matching of musical talents whereas others dismiss it as nothing particularly original in the line of soul infused trip-hop and similar in sound to Burton’s previous work. Personally, I think the album is excellent but perhaps peters out during the second half but only in contrast to the strength of the opening tracks, the latter still being good songs. It is definitely an album to check out, especially for fans of Danger Mouse or The Shins but not necessarily an album that will make history.

‘Broken Bells’ will be released on March 9th

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