Broken Bells - Broken Bells (Cover Artwork)

Broken Bells

Broken Bells (2010)


The world has been Shin-less since 2007. After a band lineup change, the future of the Shins seems unpromising. Luckily, James Mercer knows how to give his fans what they want. Teaming up with the producing master, Danger Mouse (associated with Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz, Beck, etc.) they create a satisfying piece of art with Broken Bells.

What makes this album work is the fact that it gives off the same feelings of the Shins, but with a new original sound. The moment the album starts, a catchy synth beat attracts the ears from the opening track "The High Road." The band follows with Mercer's soothing voice and all goes well from there. "Vaporize" follows, with Mercer preaching the fact that no one lives a real dream anymore; they simply waste life away: "Why should we waste it on / Buying into the same old lies / The longer we wait around / The faster the years go by."

"Your Head Is on Fire" brings in a psychedelic twist as pure Danger Mouse-inspired funk infects "The Ghost Inside." The album continues on in the haunting track of "Sailing to Nowhere," which ends in jumpy piano backed with enjoyable strings. "Trap Doors" keeps a steady constant beat as it discusses what life consists of, and the choices that we make.

"Citizen" may just be the most gentle song on the album. The poppy chorus follows along with the sounds of the synthesizers and soft hums. Next, Mercer continues again to preach about living life in the upbeat "October" mixed with ruined love.

The last two tracks end the album perfectly. "Mongrel Heat" starts fast and steady, though halfway through that beat ends with loud operatic voices, accompanied with Spanish-influenced horns. The intro returns, though fades at the end with a soft acoustic riff that becomes "The Mall & Misery." The track soon gives off a mature pop-punk vibe with Mercer ending bellowing the lyrics, "The dead mouths it costs to be alive..."

Broken Bells is not the Shins, I know. Still, this album as a whole is pretty much flawless. James Mercer was always good at lacking filler tracks and Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) knows damn well how to produce an album. The sound these two created is new and original, with lyrics that do not lack true emotion.

This is music that Shins fans will not be disappointed in, along with gathering new fans. Broken Bells is surely one of the best side-project bands that has come out in recent memory and whatever these two men come up with next, we can be sure it won't lack greatness.