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After the Disco

Broken Bells

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Album Review

At times, Broken Bells' self-titled debut was so hazy that it felt like it was about to dissipate in a cloud of wry West Coast melancholy, but on After the Disco, James Mercer and Brian Burton give that atmosphere a little more form. Building on previous highlights like "The Ghost Inside" and "The High Road," the pair dive deeper into their synth pop, new wave, and disco fascinations to soundtrack songs that, as the album title suggests, are filled with comedowns and disappointments. Former single and standout track "Holding on for Life" uses its slow-motion disco beat and eerie keyboards to underscore the emptiness lurking in lyrics like "what a lovely day to be lonely," cultivating a mood that falls somewhere between desperate and glamorous. As always in Broken Bells' world, there's a fine line between bittersweet and bummed out; while these aren't the easiest moods to make appealing, Burton and Mercer succeed when they bring some energy to the proceedings. "Medicine" bolsters its contemplative sighs with spiky, percussive pop that recalls Gotye, while "No Matter What You're Told" gives some brassy bite to its blasé cynicism. Here and on songs like "Lazy Wonderland," which sells the merits of watching the wheels go round and round with some alluring major-minor chord changes, After the Disco is a much more organic and satisfying blend of Mercer and Burton's respective strengths than Broken Bells was. [An LP version was also released.]

Customer Reviews

Epic

Imagine eating your favorite food. Then add in drinking your favorite beer. Finally, top it off with the best dessert you've ever had. Now multiply the deliciousness of that meal by 1 trillion. That experience is how your ears will be feeling when listening to this album.

Mmmmhmmmm.

Groovay + Bee Gees-esque. I'm digging the new Broken Bells!

The best of the '70s

It's Jackson Browne meets the Bee Gees! How can you go wrong with that combination?

Biography

Formed: 2008 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Though Broken Bells featured two of the bigger names in indie and alternative music — the Shins' singer/guitarist James Mercer and producer/multi-instrumentalist Brian Burton, aka Danger Mouse — the duo managed to keep their project secret for a relatively long time. The pair were inspired to collaborate when they met at 2004's Roskilde music festival in Denmark, where they discovered they were fans of each other's work. However, they didn't start writing and recording together as a band...
Full Bio
After the Disco, Broken Bells
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