The collaborative project of Brian Burton and James Mercer, Broken Bells releases their new album, Into The Blue, the first since After the Disco, which dropped eight years ago.
Burton, better known as Danger Mouse, and Mercer, vocalist and guitarist for The Shins, decided to collaborate after meeting at Denmark’s Roskilde Festival in 2004. Yet they didn’t start working together until four years later, followed by releasing their self-titled debut album.
Consisting of nine tracks, the album begins with the title track, opening on dirge-like tones topped by lysergic tones. Vaguely reminiscent of Pink Floyd, there’s a drifting prog-rock flavor to the tune, at once meandering and full of slow, floating textures.
Highlights include “We’re Not In Orbit Yet …,” which rolls out on a mid-tempo rhythm as Mercer’s dreamy vocals imbue the lyrics with pensive timbres. Radiant, resonant harmonies infuse the tune not only with luminous depth and dimension but also with numinous textures.
“Love on the Run” travels on a sparkling, almost tinny piano, and then flows into a melody merging hints of Ambrosia and Pink Floyd into a lustrous tune with velvety vocals and glowing harmonies. The combination of yacht rock and prog-rock elements converges to shape a soft, undulating song dripping with tender, quixotic aromas.
With its new wave, Duran Duran-like sensation, “One Night” delivers a contagious rhythm and sleek, creamy vocals. It’s the pulsating motion of the music that hooks listeners. Whereas “Forgotten Boy” features darker colors, a tension-filled, rumbling rhythm, and wistful voices, accented by gleaming, chiming tones.
“The Chase” travels on dual layers of coloration, one suffused with soft, shining colors, the other deep and risky. Washes of orchestral strings give the tune sweeping textures, while an extended bassline surges with fat, reverberating timbres.
The last track, “Fade Away,” exudes latent gloom, as if the sun is setting over the world. Mercer’s high tenor imbues the lyrics with sad, regretful tones. Tinted with indulgent infusions of new wave savors, the tune submits cashmere, sinuous surfaces.
Melodically, the album is hard to fault. Still, there’s a listless, nomadic impression to Into The Blue, leaving it lacking a bewitching component.