Broken Bells is a new American indie rock band made up of artist-producer Danger Mouse and James Mercer, the lead vocalist and guitarist for indie rock band The Shins.
Even though indie rock and electronica can work well together - Vampire Weekend is a case in point - The Shins' specific brand of indie/pop doesn't at first seem like it could sit well with synth melodies.
But give it some time: the self-titled album's first single, The High Road, turns out to have a wonderful pop riff and catchy chorus, and is full of simple yet addictive guitar chords and light piano.
Your Head Is On Fire is a woozy, dreamy tune with a bouncing bass line. Its beginning has a wealth of echoing laser beam sounds. Like much of the rest of the album, this song's mood and tempo never settle down, as if the duo created the album while dancing.
The album ends with The Mall & Misery, which starts off as folksy meditation, gathering unforeseen strength as it plays.
The duo use the album to try something new but, while captivating, Broken Bells is short on memorable tracks. It's a solid first effort, even if it does lack the magic needed to mesmerise listeners the first time round.
YP rating: 3/5