Broken Bells – Broken Bells

March 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Broken Bells are James Mercer and Brian Burton, better known as founder and front man of The Shins, and super producer/musician Danger Mouse. One may worry what might happen when you cross Oh, Inverted World with the stupidly over-played ‘Crazy’, but there’s no need to panic (or frankly, be a little scared).

At first listen, you may be mistaking for thinking you are indeed listening to some kind of updated Shins album. It is the familiarity of Mercer’s vocals that will lead you into this trap, but as the record progresses and develops, you’ll find it is something altogether different. Unquestionably there are certain similarities to be found, every now and again in the guitar rhythms and vocal patterns, but songs such as ‘Mongrel Heart’ and ‘The Ghost Inside’ show that this collaboration is anything but lazy in its efforts. The sounds here are less organic and slightly more electro, with Burton showing off the producing skills that have made him so popular and well-respected. The impressive thing is that the synths, handclaps, piano parts and unnameable electronic sounds do not stand out from the organic sounding guitars and strings; they fit together as one and make you wonder how they ever could have been apart in the first place. The lyrics are what you’d expect from Mercer (i.e. brilliant) [Remember what they said / There’s no shortcut to a dream / It’s all blood and sweat / And life is what you manage in between]

This isn’t a record to set your world on fire. It’s a slow burner, but a very enjoyable one at that. This seems to be what Broken Bells set out to do, they aren’t looking to change the musical landscape forever, more flex their musical muscles and show what two individuals can do when they come together to form an unexpected bond. This particular bond is a successful one; listen to Broken Bells on a lazy Sunday morning, and let their sound ease those good-god-will-this-recession-never-end-blues.


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