Review : Broken Bells - Broken Bells
DrownedinsoundAs musical collaborations go, the one embarked upon by James Mercer, mercurial singer/songwriter with esteemed Portlanders The Shins, and Brian Burton, better known as producer extraordinaire Danger Mouse, has to go down as one of the most unlikely. While perhaps not in the sublime bracket of ridiculousness inhabited by Burt Bacharach's mutual love-in with Elvis Costello and Dr Dre that reared 2005's ill-advised At This Time or Bing Crosby and David Bowie uttering Christmas carols to one another, it certainly set the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons late last year when Mercer announced Broken Bells was a fully projected work in progress and an album would be imminent.
This was, after all, the frontman of one of the most beloved indie bands of the decade coupling up with a producer last seen working with Helena Costas in the slightly forgettable Joker's Daughter. On paper, hardly a match made in heaven, more of a mis-engineered fusion of two talented individuals from exact opposite ends of the spectrum. Precisely thirty-seven-and-a-half minutes and one listen to Broken Bells later, the humble pie is doing the rounds with extra lashings of double whipped cream. Maybe it's that old adage about opposites attracting, but more than likely it's simply a case of two modern-day geniuses colluding to construct what will undoubtedly be heralded as one of 2010's most dynamic, forward-thinking records....full text
LatimesblogsIf Zach Braff ever makes "Garden State 2," "Vaporize," the second track from this accomplished collaboration between the Shins' James Mercer and Brian Burton, a.k.a. Danger Mouse, will be the soundtrack to Natalie Portman widening her doe eyes at our next hapless hero. With dusty strumming and soulful organ, Mercer's ennui about wasted modern life makes soul mates, at least temporarily, out of anyone listening.
Cinematic, unexpectedly romantic and carefully curated, "Broken Bells" has the same appeal as Postal Service's 2003 "Give Up" record, another celebrated accord between indie pop and electronica powers, though it skews more toward sparkling but dense folk rock than meticulously minimalist electronica.
A short album of 10 tracks pared from 20 recorded songs, "Broken Bells" is a potent distillation of the strengths of its main players. Mercer's knack for twisting and turning melodies is impeccably served by Burton, who tempers and fulfills those melodies with laid-back but elaborate scores of synth, piano, organ and sometimes a full string section, the only instruments not played by Burton or Mercer....full text
EwIf Broken Bells, the pairing of producer/Gnarls Barkley alum Brian Burton (a.k.a. Danger Mouse) and Shins frontman James Mercer is not quite as magical as that of, say, peanut butter and jelly, it still makes for a subtly savory sonic morsel. Burton builds layered, twilit soundscapes for Mercer's pensive musings; these songs are the stuff of cloudy days and sleepless nights, and that's okay. ...full text
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