Monday, August 30, 2010

Broken Bells: self-titled

James Mercer and Brian Burton ... sounds like a boring combination unless you're aware that Mercer is the lead singer from The Shins, while Burton is better known by his DJ name, Danger Mouse.  It seems an odd pairing at the outset, seeing as how The Shins are largely unplugged (aside from the occasional electric guitar), and Danger Mouse is, well, almost exclusively plugged.  But hey, if The Black Keys and Mos Def can hook up (and also RZA), then why not Mercer and Burton?

Pretty much everything Danger Mouse has ever touched has turned to gold.  The dude is a digital King Midas.  Gold, gold, gold, gold, gold, gold (some in terms of sales; all in terms of sound).  Danger didn't change his tune for Broken Bells' self-titled debut.

The duo of Mercer and Burton hooked up in 2009 to record for Dark Night of the Soul, a project helmed by Sparklehorse (produced by Burton), and produced my favorite track from the album.  The sound reproduced itself for the Broken Bells album, but less glitchy, less experimental; more tuneful, more poppy.  I'm not complaining though; tuneful and poppy are fine by me if they are done well... and Mercer and Burton do it well.  However, if tuneful and poppy are the themes for the album, then it simply sounds like Burton put electronic beats/sounds behind The Shins.  I wouldn't have minded it if they had branched out a bit on a few tracks.  This one, however, is fantastic:

Grade: B+
Blurb: It lives up to its billing.  The question now becomes, who couldn't Danger Mouse work with?

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