What do you get when you cross the precious indie-pop melodies of The Shins with the futuristic beats of DJ/producer Danger Mouse? Well, the one-of-a-kind collaboration between James Mercer, frontman and songwriter from The Shins, and Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse and co-founder of another ground-breaking partnership Gnarls Barkley, is known as Broken Bells. And the duo’s self-titled debut offering is witness to the best of what both have to offer.
What’s clear from the onset is that both Mercer and Burton have a shared interest to explore their musical boundaries. Despite their profiles, this seems like a project of desire. The songs of Broken Bells are sunny and melodic. Burton creates at times a woozy, almost psychedelic foundation for Mercer’s reflectively penned songs like "Your Head Is On Fire."
Expectations may at times derail your initial experience; this is neither a Shins album nor a Gnarls Barkley record. But as you settle into Broken Bells the appealing qualities of Mercer and Burton’s past resume’s is what again draws you in. Burton can make your head bob on songs like “The Ghost Inside,” while Mercer can still make Natalie Portman characters proclaim that his words will “change your life” on songs like “The High Road.”
It’s too early to say whether or not this is just the first of future collaborations between Mercer and Burton as Broken Bells. But for now, the music world is sure to embrace this musical merger.
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