Broken Bells - Broken Bells

Written by Big Smile Staff

Posted May 21, 2011, by Michelle Bettencourt.

Featured Artists: The Shins, Beck, Gorillaz; Genre: Indie;

With the collaboration of indie rock – king, James Mercer and well/known producer and artist Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) one might be expecting one of the greatest musical alliances of our time, or one of the biggest failures . What we get instead is a confident, well rounded, and endearing album that is everything a collaboration should be, fun, fresh, and distinct.

While Mercer’s voice is recognizable as the front man to the Shins, it also takes on an identity of its own, rising and climbing to dance-able beats and then descending to a steady stupor. The Ghost Inside is easily the catchiest song on the album. It sounds like a fresh remix with pounding rhythms and Mercer’s whiney yet commanding vocals. The lyrics and vocals in the High Road are mesmerizing and you can’t help but find yourself chanting along, as if under hypnosis as Mercer’s voice layers, “It’s too late to change your mind. You let walls be your guide.”

Closing song, The Mall and Misery is easily the classic best song on the album that gets little recognition. The intro sounds like the soundtrack to a videogame rather than an indie-pop album. The instrumentation leading up to the song builds up perfectly to support the unrelenting harmonies. This track dips and soars and leaves you sorry the song and the album have come to an end.

Thankfully Broken Bells has not followed other collaborative groups, such as the Postal Service in teasing fans with just one album. They just released an EP entitled, Meyrin Fields. Though nowhere near the caliber of their self titled debut, it is solid and leaves promise for growth. Broken Bells stands out because it doesn’t try to be anything. It is a strong album that hits its climax with every track and is the perfect blend of complexity while leaving aside the pretentiousness and puffery. Bottom line, you will find yourself playing it over and over again because each song is precise; containing fluid lyrics, shifting vocals, and hopping beats.



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