Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Broken Bells Underwhelms, But That's Not a Terrible Thing

This article was strange to write. After several spins of the James Mercer/Danger Mouse collaboration Broken Bells, I was left with a feeling of mild joy and felt a bit underwhelmed.. And I didn't feel bad about it. Joy only in the sense that certain tracks make me long for more of The Shins. The album as a whole is a collection of songs more than an album experience. You never feel fully immersed in any atmosphere from Danger Mouse. I must have a complex but I can't really pull myself away from the thoughts that certain songs would have sounded better in their respective groups. The only track that really takes on a wholly unique sound on the album is "Mongrel Heart." Easily the best track on the album, it takes on a swagger that is different from the overtly pop infused tracks of the rest of the album. "Vaporize" is the best of the two singles, but while listening the only thing that goes through my head is how this would have sounded great on a Shins record. Inversely, the track "The Ghost Inside" clearly would sound much better as a Gnarls Barkley single. These tracks are missing something extra to give it that extra punch that would make them Broken Bells. At the end of all of this, I still enjoy these songs. It's hard to put my head around it as more than a collection of tracks rather than an album. I can flip through and pick a few decent tracks to enjoy, but I will never really return to this record as a start to finish experience. As much as I don't think Broken Bells is a good album experience, it still has decent contents. "The High Road" is catchy and has some cool sounds floating through it, but I just can't really get into listening to the whole record in one sitting. What it boils down to is that I have a hard time detaching myself from James Mercer's The Shins and Danger Mouse's previous work especially Gnarls Barkley. I don't really see a band called Broken Bells. To me that's a bit disappointing, but only a little bit as when they go back to their respective bands, they may have learned something from each other.

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