Mezzo Forte Thursday – Broken Bells

Their album, with the same name as the artist, is the collaboration project between Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) and James Mercer from The Shins, and speculation, since the announcement of the project, has been the results will be good, if not amazing. However, this is an album I cannot work out. Is it really brilliant? Really awful? Just average? It makes no sense to me.

To begin with, it’s immediately palatable to the ear. Usually this is a bad sign – there’s no need to acquire a taste, so will it get boring very quickly? Or will it be accessable to a lot of demographics and therefore a universal hit? Things you need to really listen to, to get into last for a lot longer I find, but currently that looks like it won’t happen with Broken Bells.

There seems to be a far degree of variance in the first few tracks, but the second half does generally seem to roll into one long piece with no real stand-out numbers, although it does revive itself a little at the end with ‘The Mall and Misery. On the plus side, the tracks are not hideously boring and long, with the album running for around 35 minutes. The first track, ‘The High Road’, also the first single, has an excellent vocal line (probably the best part about it), but is slightly reminiscent of generic radio/early landfill indie songs that occur in the background but you never really listen to. This isn’t help by the fact it was heard in the Co-Op when shopping. I found most of the early songs seemed to remind me of something else – ‘Vaporize’ having hints of late-90s Manics, track 4 ‘The Ghost Inside’ something like Damon Albarn might feature in a side project run by cartoon members (having said that, this was my favourite song on the album), and ‘Sailing To Nowhere’ hideously 90s-pop.

I didn’t find this album as wonderful as everyone has been saying it is. It bored me a little, which was disappointing, but perhaps it’ll age well. It sounds pretty good, in that it’s not noise rock, it’s not heavy metal – it’s pretty easy-going really, but it’s just not that interesting. It feels like it could be a good ‘party album’, in that you’d say to a friend “Oh I know this track, who is it though?”, someone might mention it’s Broken Bells, but you would not then start discussing the band and their musical merits. I feel there could be a second album, but I don’t think I shall be listening to it.

Playing/Performance/Sound – 8.5/10

Originality – 5/10

As a collection – 6/10

Overall – 6.5/10


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