Music

[Indie Pop]

CD review: Broken Bells’ ‘After the Disco’

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Smith Galtney

Three stars

Broken Bells After the Disco

Following up their hazy-dazy, self-titled 2010 debut, Broken Bells—James Mercer of The Shins and producer Danger Mouse—return to demonstrate, thankfully, that they’re a band, and not just another one-off side project à la The Postal Service. After the Disco feels like a misleading title, since the title cut is the only tune that really kicks your heels up, but the whole disc brims with beautifully bummed-out, morning-after malaise.

Danger Mouse is one of the smartest guys in music today (check out his Endless Summer playlist for more proof), a headphone geek who loves his Krautrock (“Perfect World”) and can’t resist a theremin (“No Matter What You’re Told”). Mercer’s main way of distinguishing Broken Bells from The Shins is by singing in falsetto here and there, which he does gloriously in “Holding on for Life.” As with the first Broken Bells album, you’ll be singing a good third of it for the next several years. Or forever.

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  • At this point, the only constant from album to album is the band’s dedication to ambition.

  • Bassist Nate Brenner partners with leader Merrill Garbus for an approachable and dancey record.

  • “This record has very little insecurity. It was a blast to make, and it’s really fun to play live.”

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