Album Review: Broken Bells, “After the Disco”

Album Review: Broken Bells, “After the Disco”

Leigh MichaelThursday,6 February 2014

The Snap:

Broken Bells, the moniker for the collaboration between Shins vocalist James Mercer and Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse), released its second studio album on February 4th. After the Disco is a cocktail of different genres, capturing Burton’s hip-hop/electronica aesthetic and Mercer’s indie/pop style in equal measure.

You can purchase After the Disco on iTunes or Amazon.

The Download:

On the surface, James Mercer and Brian Burton musically don’t have much in common. Mercer created the teenage anthem “New Slang,” and the Shins became associated with indie films like Garden State and Wicker Park. Danger Mouse, meanwhile, was creating Gnarls Barkley, producing Gorillaz and Black Keys albums, and performing alongside Jay-Z.

But their perhaps unlikely pairing works. It really works. The album’s title track is upbeat without being too “poppy,” and is electric-infused without feeling like a headache in the making. “Leave it Alone” is another sparsely beautiful song, showcasing the falsetto talent that we’ve appreciate in Mercer for years.

Holding on for Life” (watch below) is the album’s tour de force. Mercer manages to make the lyrics “What a lovely day to be lonely” seem heartening and almost enviable (“Yeah! I wanna be lonely too!!”), and the strange-but-beautiful video complements the ensemble to perfection. An added bonus: House of Cards actress Kate Mara stars. So does little-known actor Anton Yelchin, who has had roles in everything from Taken (insert obligatory Liam Neeson clip here) to The Smurfs.

Burton explained the ethos of After the Disco’s title to NPR, noting, “And I guess at the time [that the title was devised], it was kind of almost more of a question: You know, what happens after the party is over with… or growing up – what happens next.”

If this is “next” for every musician that we loved as teenagers… Then I can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon.

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Hat Tips:

Broken Bells, NPR, VEVO, Rolling Stone, Image Credit: Flickr

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