Broken Bells (for those that may not know) is the collaborative effort of James Mercer from The Shins, and mega-ultra-super-wam-bam-thankya-mam producer Danger Mouse. This is a dream team of epic proportions. I mean The Shins are The Shins. Poptastic and friendly, easy to dance to. But I'm actually an even bigger fan of Danger Mouse. He's probably my very favorite producer right now. Everything the man touches turns to gold: Gorillaz (Demon Days), his Danger Doom project with MF Doom, Gnarls Barkley, Beck's Modern Guilt, The Black Keys' Attack and Release.... etc. etc. etc. This particular collab started with his recent Dark Night of the Soul project which featured two James Mercer tracks. The two thought it would be a good idea to do an album of their own. And why not?
The result is very pleasant indeed. Its fun that this should be released the same time as the new Gorillaz, as Danger Mouse was a huge part of why I loved Demon Days. I like how Mr. Mercer's beach-pop melodies meld with Danger Mouse's rock-hop production style. The Shins last album (Wincing the Night Away) was my favorite of theirs, and this album possesses a bit of the beat- driven pop that I liked about that one, as well. The immediate stand-out to me was "The Ghost Inside" with James in full falsetto goodness, and a total Backstreet Boys beat behind it (seriously...enjoy). The harmonies come out in full effect in final track "The Mall & Misery" and the beautifully spacey "Citizen," the end of which floats off into a hypnotizing hum of harmonious heaven. (You know you loved those "h's.")
To conclude, this is a very enjoyable listen. At times it can drag ever so slightly, but not enough to kill the mood. Its definitely one that'll get better with time and repeated listens. A variety of moods and grooves to suit anyone. Danger Mouse always brings his game, the end results just depend on who he's working with. So, if you are a fan of The Shins you'll love it, even more so depending on how much you loved their last album I think. Its a great companion album to the new Gorillaz to prep you for some warm weather.
Pretend I gave numerical ratings again: 7.5/10 (with a little room to grow)