Mar 102010
Authors: Ian Mahan

If collaborations aren’t your bag, click the fast-forward button. But first, let’s see if this is appealing: a collaboration between one of the most accomplished electronic artists and a seminal indie front man.

Sound interesting?

Insert Broken Bells, the brain child of artist/producer Brian Burton, or more commonly known as Danger Mouse, and James Mercer, lead vocalist/guitarist for indie band The Shins.

On the duo’s self-titled debut album, all of the soft acoustic guitars and earnest lyrics that made The Shins appealing couple with lounge-type, Billy Martin beats that will make anyone’s head nod.

The opening track, “The High Road,” is layered with complex choral harmonies and a spacey synthesizer walk. It is infectious right down to the very last measure.

“The Ghost Inside” and “Citizen” are Gorillaz like hip-hop songs with plenty of sass and melody to make Mercer’s voice sound a little bit more suave and theory-oriented than a depressed singer with a guitar.

“October” has the two slipping a little bit into the straight indie route. The song is a little bland, lacking the complex electronic elements that are present throughout the entire album.

On the whole, “Broken Bells” is all-around solid. The lyrics are present enough to not drown out the creative side that the electronics bring to the table. Musically the two worked well enough to allow Mercer’s voice to stay in the proper keys to succeed.

In any case, there are no cracks in this bell.

Music reviewer Ian Mahan can be reached at

 Posted by at 6:17 pm

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