After The Disco
Broken Bells are back. The duo of Brian Burton, also known as Danger Mouse, and James Mercer, the frontman of the Shins, have returned with their second album, After The Disco. It's a contemplative collection of sci-fi pop that comes nearly four years after their self-titled debut album and almost three years after the four-song Meyrin Fields EP.
When the first effort was issued, Brian and James made it clear that Broken Bells should be regarded as a real band, not just a one-time side project. With After The Disco, they stay true to their word.
There are many layers to the sonic landscape here. Sweet melodies are anchored by James Mercer's vocals. The songs flow along a sea of icy, electronic instrumentation and mechanical beats. Occasionally, rhythms quicken to a hypnotic dance groove, yet a sense of uneasiness tempers any enthusiasm. There is an atmosphere of deception to After The Disco: Any feelings of warmth and calm coming from James Mercer's voice are disturbed by the cold, robotic landscape largely created by Danger Mouse. The songs never rise to levels of dread, but they also don't allow you to let down your guard and relax.
Broken Bells channel their inner Alan Parsons Project throughout After The Disco, especially on the album's opening song, "Perfect World." "Holding On For Life" brings to mind the Bee Gees, while "Lazy Afternoon" sounds inspired by early '70s Beach Boys.
James Mercer and Danger Mouse are close friends who enjoy working together. It's a team that promises to create more thoughtful music in the years to come.
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