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Broken Bells

Broken Bells

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Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) has found his greatest rewards in the art of collaboration. Be it with his greatest degree of commercial success alongside Cee-Lo Green in Gnarls Barkley or less-heralded team-ups with Blur's Damon Albarn and rapper MF Doom. Broken Bells is the latest collaboration for Burton, this time with The Shins' James Mercer. It's something they have been angling to do since meeting at in 2004 and discovering they admired each other's work. Unlike the clanky imagery the band's name might evoke, the end result is rapturous. Right from how Burton fuses burping, minor-key synth washes, and slow rolling beats with Mercer's soulful falsetto on the opener "The High Road," it's clear there's great promise here. Other highlights include the dream pop of "Your Head Is on Fire," with its spaghetti western guitar twang and gorgeous swings. Elsewhere, the jittery "Mongrel Heart" has a caffeinated new wave tempo to it that wouldn't have sounded out of place in a Richard Blade DJ set. "October" ambles along, anchored by a bit of wah-wah piano, while the airiness of "Sailing to Nowhere" gives it a sense of floating off into the ether. But for as airy and trip-hoppy as the vibe may be here, there is still a sense that Broken Bells could push the envelope more. The Burton-Mercer duo has a lot of potential, and should ultimately yield bigger, grander musical statements. (Columbia)

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