Broken Bells: After the Disco (Columbia) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Broken Bells

After the Disco

Columbia

Jan 31, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


First time round, Broken Bells wasn't the trip everyone expected. On paper the coming together of The Shins' James Mercer and hip-hop producer and sometimes-Gorillaz corroborator Danger Mouse had the potential to be a beat-smothered indie behemoth. Yet their 2010 debut LP was a lukewarm wash of psychedelic pop that resembled a less glamorous and more earthly of Montreal.

Not accepting defeat, the duo has returned with a follow-up intent on improving upon the failings of their initial venture. This time, there's a definite shift towards the dance flooras you'd expect from a project titled After the Discoand Danger Mouse's influence seeps out more prominently through his tight production and spacious beats.

What this means is it's less easy to cast Broken Bells as a futuristic take on Mercer's day job. "Medicine" and "No Matter What You're Told," two of the record's more infectious showings, are illuminated by a growl of cyber funk that coaxes Mercer out of his usual vocal slumber into something more assertive, something moredare we say itsexy.

With its gyrating synth line and galaxy-gazing groove, the title track is by far the record's most immediately pleasing proposition. But the decadent alien whirring of "Holding On For Life" and slow-dancing acoustic number "Leave It Alone" should command the most attention; each is consumed with an expert melodic trickery that befits their creators' class.

Disappointingly, there's also an abundance of filler that's barely worth a second look. Album swan song "The Remains of Rock & Roll" is as abject as its title suggests, while "Lazy Wonderland" and "The Angel and the Fool" are tedious yawns that smack of space stuffing. So, yes, album number two is a step in the right direction, but once again the journey doesn't always feel worth the effort. (www.brokenbells.com)

Author rating: 6/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10



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