There is no denying that After The Disco, the new album from Broken Bells, is instantly catchy. James Mercer’s voice is made for this type of electro/synth indie/pop and, as you know from his other releases (as the singer for the excellent band The Shins), he has a damn good ear for a pop melody and an equally good way of presenting that melody with his high pitched, bouncy vocals. As for Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse, his back catalogue speaks for itself.
The two met many years ago and decided to collaborate, but with them both being extremely busy with their other projects, it wasn’t until 2010 that they finally recorded and released their self-titled debut album, to very positive reviews. An EP soon followed and now comes the new instalment to their discography, After The Disco.
The first single taken from the album, ‘Holding On for Life’ almost takes you back to the heady 60s; Mercer’s voice taking on a particularly Bee Gees-esque quality in the choruses and, with some tight, funky basslines and electro-infused drum beats popping up, you can really hear Burton’s influence on the record. A wonderful track.
Harmonies, strings and synths fill your ears as Mercer and Co. sing for you to ‘Leave it Alone’. The production is amazing, the music makes you feel good and it’ll make you really want to hear the next song. These two really have a knack for funky, for feel-good, for writing songs you can’t help but tap your feet to.
However, what they give with one hand they take away with the other: Yes, the music is instantly catchy, but at the same time it is instantly forgettable. It doesn’t stick. There are hints of past successes; title track ‘After The Disco’ wouldn’t be out of place on a Cee-Lo Green record, in fact, it would be better. Not many tracks grab you and scream “Listen to me!” as they can’t stop from gliding across the layer of polish each one has been given.
Both of these guys have noteworthy backgrounds. They know how to write a tune, perform a tune and produce a tune, and what they have produced on After The Disco is nice. It is very nice, but it is almost too nice. There are no rough edges, which aren’t always needed, but on a record that promises so much it all just seems a bit safe.
After The Disco is available now. Check out the video for their single ‘Holding On for Life’ below.