Monday, March 15, 2010

Album Review: Broken Bells

Danger Mouse has a real knack for picking out just the right artist to elevate to the next level. The Black Keys and Mark Linkous both got the Mouse treatment and now its James Mercer’s turn. Mercer is best known as the front man for the offbeat, indie-rock group The Shins. Lead away from his often-depressing songwriting tendencies, Mercer and Danger Mouse combined to make Broken Bells, a collaboration which embraces left-of-center funk on “The Ghost Inside” and some beautifully tweaked-out, digitized synthesizer on opening track “The High Road”. The group channels Jerry Garcia’s memorable guitar sounds on “Your Head Is On Fire” and mixes them with Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s era psychedelia with beautiful results. The majority of the album does tend to follow a similar pattern however. Swooping backdrops and mid-tempo rock with lots of synthesized sounds. Mercer also rarely leaves his vocal comfort zone, which is unfortunately quite limited. While no doubt a very solid effort, the album plays best when picking out a few choice tracks, rather than listening to it from start-to-finish.

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