Broken Bells: After the Disco
Indie rockers Broken Bells are back with their second full-length album, After the Disco, but not much has changed from the collaborative duo; Producer Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse, and The Shins’ lead vocalist and guitarist James Mercer showcase their mature, cohesive indie-wave sound. Unfortunately, James Mercer left his longtime band The Shins shortly after the release of After the Disco and ironically enough, a year after one of the band’s most successful albums, Port of Morrow. “Perfect World” sums up Mercer’s fairwell tribute to The Shins “We look to exit signs/But we can’t be changed into/Nothing over night/Though we know its over/It keeps exploding.” Mercer turns a new page and the result is After the Disco.
“After the Disco” is a groovy throwback track with cool, indie-electro, hypnotic beats that synchronize perfectly over Mercer’s vocals. It’s speedy pickup keeps us enticed with non-vocal instrumental breakthroughs. Each song consistenly connects perfectly like a chapter book. “Holding On for Life” sounds like zombies shrieking, which is most likely heard in the climax scene of a horror film, but thankfully we are reassured by soft, soothing vocals and lovey-dovey lyrics. Mercer extends his vocals outside of the falsetto range. We’d love to hear more of that young Michael Jackson style.
“Leave It Alone” brings us back to the southern folk days; it’s so incredibly soothing with transparent similarities from many of their debut songs except with more humming, a slower pace, and a bit more repetition. Starting off with light drumming over electronic, pulsing beats, “The Changing Lights” seems to get us ready for an alien invasion. “Control” reminds me of “The Ghost Inside,” a track with a mellow neo-elecro surf vibe over powerful vocals. At the end of the song, we understand that “It’s useless to hold on sometimes.”
Get ready for stretched-out syllables and elongated words on “Lazy Wonderland,” a completely dragged-out song. It’s whispering background vocals make us want to hit the snooze button. “Medicine” and “No Matter What You’re Told” are similar to the rest of the songs on the album – dreamy, mellow indie rock at it’s finest. “The Remains Of Rock & Roll” is a closing “so-long song,” just “take the wheel and drive.” Broken Bells have redefined their sound with a new “ghost inside.”