Broken Bells - Broken Bells

Album Review by Paul Mitchell | 09 Mar 2010
  • Broken Bells - Broken Bells
Album title: Broken Bells
Artist: Broken Bells
Label: Columbia
Release date: 8 March

What do you get when you cross the creative force behind a soft-spoken indie/pop/alt country collective and a sonic whiz kid with a list of collaborators as long as a whisky hangover? Well, Broken Bells is the official moniker in this instance, but compromise is generally the end result. Not that this is a disaster by any means.

The Shins' James Mercer and Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse of Gnarls Barkley, The Grey Album etc fame) fuse their respective approaches to alluring effect on stand out tracks Your Head Is On Fire, The Ghost Inside and Mongrel Heart. This trio vary considerably in sound, but triumph in the sense that they justify the notion of this collaboration in the first instance, blending Mercer's song crafting sensibilities and descant vocal with Burton's penchant for considered electronic experimentation.

There's a rococo feel to the slick production of the album, but that can feel overstated at times. The schizophrenic lead single The High Road, is a case in point; flitting between anthemic pop and proggy noodling is interesting, just not so much after the third listen. Ultimately, echoes/pastiches of the aural landscapes of artists such as Air and (Danger Mouse cohorts) Gorillaz is all very well; just it would be nice to know what the Broken Bells sound actually is.