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Broken Bells: 'After The Disco' Album Review

Zoe Willis |
February 5, 2014 | 11:28 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

"After the Disco" nails its titular sound, but to what avail? (via Wikimedia)
"After the Disco" nails its titular sound, but to what avail? (via Wikimedia)
Broken Bells is a duo of two very different types of artists. James Mercer, a member of The Shins, provides the singer- songwriter vibe to the group. He incorporates strong vocals with an impressive array of lyrics.

In contrast, producer Danger Mouse (who has worked for U2, Gnarles Barkley, and the Black Keys among others) provides an upbeat, indie pop aspect to their tracks. Danger Mouse was brought into public eye in 2004 with his intriguing mash up "The Grey Album" which incorporated Jay Z’s "The Black Album" with The Beatles’s "The White Album" (clever, huh?).

The two blend together their unique talents to provide for the somewhat unique sound that is Broken Bells.

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The duo released their self titled album in 2010. Sure, it did have a successful radio single, “The High Road,” but other than that, the tracks did not seem to follow a cohesive pattern.

It was almost as if they hadn’t fully decided where their sound was going. Tracks were all over, which provided for an interesting and engaging listening experience, but not the cohesive album feel.

Now, with the release of “After the Disco,” they seem to have found their niche. The two artists have come together to truly blend their respective talents into a defining sound.

In accordance with the title, “After the Disco,” the album does indeed have a post-disco era-like sound.

It's upbeat, smooth, and has plenty of digital synth thanks to Danger Mouse. The only issue is that whereas the album "Broken Bells" was across the board in terms of sound, the tracks on this album are almost too safe, too alike.

“The Remains of Rock and Roll” is an example of playing it safe. The track almost feels like an obligatory filler track, as it essentially provides no real substance to the overall album.

The only tracks that really stand out are “Holding On for Life,” with its strong harmonies and groovy keyboard additions, and “Lazy Wonderland,” which has a chiller vibe yet strong vocals and lyrics.

The album is nothing spectacular, but an easy listen from a duo that has introduced a unique blend of sounds. As spring nears, Broken Bells will be attending numerous festivals including Coachella. While the album is not groundbreaking, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Read more of NT's album reviews here.

Reach Staff Reporter Zoe Willis here.



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