Well, this is definitely different. For those of you who don’t know, Broken Bells is a collaboration between James Mercer (of the Shins) and Brian Burton (better known as Danger Mouse). On the surface, Broken Bells is just another indie/alternative rock album, but when you get deeper, it really stands out.
For me, it’s Burton’s production that hits this record home. He’s just such a brilliant producer. Even those who aren’t music nerds would be able to appreciate that when they listen to this. He puts all the right instruments in all the right places, makes the noises sound just right and never, ever makes it too much. He also has his own style, and it really shines through, with many of the tracks having heavy beats and a hip-hoppy rhythm, as well as a very thick texture running through most of the record.
But it’s not just Burton who calls the shots here. This album really is a collaboration, it’s not just one artist telling the other what to do. Mercer’s style is just as prominent. His title as one of the princes of indie rock is just as well deserved for this album at it is for his stuff with the Shins. Musically, the tracks seem as though they were predominantly written by Mercer, with Burton then adding his own little frills over the top.
All in all, this is a solid, enjoyable alternative rock album, especially recommended to those looking for something a little different.
Choice tracks: The High Road, Vaporize, Sailing To Nowhere, October
Recommended if you like: The Shins, Death Cab For Cutie, Gnarls Barkley