Review: Broken Bells – Broken Bells

GEORGE OSBORNE finds the answer to the question ‘What could go wrong with the marriage of pop’s best producer and writer? ‘

Dangermouse James Mercer The Shins


Released on the 8th March, the Dangermouse/James Mercer collaboration certainly sounded amazing on paper. What could go wrong with the marriage of pop’s best producer and writer?

The answer is this album – a technically marvellous and melancholically beautiful record but one that, despite the high quality throughout, has a void where its heart should be. 

I have to emphasise the lack of bum tracks on this record; ‘The High Road’ is a fantastic single, which remains catchy whilst embodying the essence of the album. ‘Sailing to Nowhere’ marries a vaguely Spanish riff to electro symbol clashes with assurance, and ‘The Ghost Inside’ is a thumpingly infectious number which takes full advantage of Mercer’s wonderful falsetto range. 

A large problem lies at the heart of the release, however, one which is less tangible than musical quality, and difficult to fully quantify in a brief review. 

The album seems to lack the emotional depth that defines all of The Shins’ releases. The melancholy is present, but somehow the generated beats and noises detract from its sincerity: Mercer seems less affected by his poetically strange lyrics and as a result a musically great album doesn’t emerge as a great album overall. 

You’ll listen to it, enjoy it and come back to it but somehow, it’ll always be overshadowed by albums that hang together more coherently.