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The side project from James Mercer and Danger Mouse, Broken Bells is back, sooner than some might have expected as well considering a second record was never really spoken about after their debut. That being said, ‘After the Disco’ is here.
The album moves away from the lo-fi indie of the self titled debut and into a more electronic, 80’s style sound that makes the album title all the more poignant. Opening track ‘Perfect World’ could easily be some Pet Shop Boys/Flock Of Seagulls remake thrust into the modern day by the futuristic yet organic tones that Danger Mouse can pull from a synthesiser, and of course, Mercer‘s soothing vocals.
The album’s title track suggest the duo may have been listening to the new Daft Punk album, letting a little funk in via the bass line and groove heavy beat that leads perfectly into the quirky lead single ‘Holding On For Life’, which once again uses a funk bass as its driver, smoothed out by a gentle acoustic guitar and falsetto melodies crooning about being all alone.
Considering this is meant to be come down music, it’s quite energetic from a rhythm section point of view, the rumbling drums lines and wide open chorus lines of ‘The Changing Lights’ exemplify this, but Mercer does his best to relax things with his gentle delivery and soft melodies. It also appears that the group have a pretty depressing come down when you look at the lyrical content. Themes of being alone and not really knowing what we are here for from a grand perspective in track ‘Medicine’, suggest Mercer is looking at life from a distance, matched with some very Gorillaz like production on the side.
Closing with ‘The Angel and the Fool’, a creeping track the sets melancholy strings to a stripped back electro beat, and ‘The Remains of Rock & Roll’, another string heavy creeper that has a waltz like feel and stand-out bass line, it’s a fitting ending.
As an addition, the album is released with a series of short films that help to set up somewhat of a hard to decipher story line for those inclined to enhance their listening experience.
Broken Bells have themed their albums well from a musical perspective, both very different to one another but perfect within themselves. The move from indie to lo-fi funk is the perfect soundtrack for the period after a heavy night out at the ol’ disco.
1. Perfect World
2. After the Disco
3. Holding On for Life
4. Leave It Alone
5. The Changing Lights
7. Lazy Wonderland
9. No Matter What You’re Told
10. The Angel and the Fool
11. The Remains of Rock and Roll