**I posted this about two weeks ago. The same day I posted it I got a cease and desist from WEB SHERIFF about the songs I chose to post. The same day I took the links down but felt strongly enough about the record to keep the review. Then today I got a DMCA notice that my post was removed to DRAFT status due to publishing song issues, which is confusing since there were no links to any songs at the time. This wouldn't normally bother me except for the hypocrisy for getting this sort of notice about a record produced by DANGERMOUSE who owed most of his fame to an illegal mashup of THE BEATLES and JAY-Z. My how people change when they get famous...
Sometimes a record is more than the sum of its parts. Sometimes something that seems so odd at first, seems so natural after repeated listens. Such is the case with BROKEN BELLS. This is a collaboration between James Mercer, Lead singer of THE SHINS, and uber-producer DANGERMOUSE. On the surface this seems a bit of an odd pairing, but dig deeper and it makes sense. Dangermouse has made a career our of odd musical co habitations (Beck's last record, His recent work with Sparklehorse and David Lynch, his successful pairing with Cee-Lo that was Gnarls Barkley, His work producing The Gorillaz) and Mercer had been slowly reshaping The Shins sound into a more experimental territory. Dismissing for a moment the claims they make that this is in fact a real band, the sound is a surprisingly organic mix of the two styles.
Some of the songs seem like Shins outtakes. "Vaporize" and "Trap Doors" sound like vintage Shins slightly mopey pop music. But elsewhere the combination of Mercer's popcraft and Dangermouse's electronic touches led to some truly interesting results. The lead single, "The High Road", has a funky beat and a clap your hands rhythm to it that makes the song shuffle along like a winding country road. "The Ghost Inside" finds Mercer in full falsetto aping Prince to a psuedo RnB swing. "The Mall and Misery" is a beeps and blasts electronic mash of a finale that I swear sounds like The Arcade Fire as filtered through a processor. It's truly an outlandish sound to hear.
I'm not sure how much shelf life the record will have. I was enamored with Beck and Sparklehorse's work with Dangermouse before only to abandon them over time. But I hope this keeps my attention as much as it grabbed me in the first place.