Monday, March 8, 2010

Broken Bells

Broken Bells
Broken Bells
As one half of Gnarls Barkley, Brian Burton is no stranger to unlikely collaborations. He built his career fusing the Beatles with Jay-Z, and Damon Albarn and Beck have both booked trips into his uncanny imaginarium machine. This effort from Burton and the Shins’ James Mercer further clogs up the intersection of electronic and indie rock. Mercer has always cut to the quick of a song’s hooky essence before turning the cute dial to 11. On tracks like “Citizen’’ Burton slows him to a languorous, ambient crawl pulled from Air’s portfolio of skewed romance. “Vaporize’’ gallops along on the back of Mercer’s acoustic throttle, with Hammond organ and horn sketching the horizons. “The Ghost Inside’’ rides an off-kilter hip-hop beat and “The Mall & Misery’’ floats along, navigated by a post-punk guitar riff. While the album is essentially the sum of its parts, one plus one doesn’t necessarily equal two. In stretching the ’60s-mining acoustic pop of the Shins over a cracked foundation of sonic-world-building, sometimes one plus one equals three. It’s just weird enough to work.

Boston Globe

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