Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Broken Bells: Broken Bells

     Broken Bells is the alternative rock band announced during 2009 and made up of music producer Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) and James Mercer of The Shins. They write and record the album as a duo, but during live performances they bring onto the stage names like Nate Walcott and Dan Elkan, which I promised myself I had to see! Their debut album, released during the March of 2009 is one that mixes rock with electronic very well, to create something both very loose and reminiscent in that the familiar chiptune beeps reminded me of old gameboy games. This isn't a stand-out album from that year though, as it lacks the continuity needed to grasp and retain my interest.
     The first track from the album was released for free from the group's website, and is in my eyes one of the better tracks on the record. The song starts with some strangely familiar beeps and dynamics that effortlessly draw the listener into it's calm and relaxed atmosphere. Mercer's voice matches this brilliantly, highlighted by the tinkling snare drums and tambourine to produce the perfect mix of vocals and sound. A pause in the previous feel is filled with a soothing melody that introduces vocals that sound calming, as though you were a child trying to get to sleep, though not in a patronising way at all!
     The next song is definitely my favourite. The voice switches in parts from normal to coated in a layer of reverb that's executed excellently. The tempo throughout the songs also changes up, with the slower verses contrasting brilliantly with the faster ones. High notes to low notes. No backing to a hardly noticeable choir sound that emphasises the melody well. Overall, due to the catchy hook and simply fantastic instrumentation, I would have to consider this the best track. The rest of the album for me, doesn't hit in quite the same way. This I would have to attribute to the lack of variety.
    The high notes are present in 'The Ghost Inside', and effects are used well on 'Sailing to Nowhere', but really no other track seems to be very varied. Every other song I can seem to relate back to the first couple, or they appear too mainstream for my liking. Mercer and Burton threw too much at me during the first eight or so minutes that I feel they run out of ideas around half way through the record. I would have preferred it if the group had evened the brilliance out so that the album as a whole was more so, rather than individual tracks, however good they are. By the end, I have to say, I was bored.
     As a conclusion, I think that the record is fantastic as a first effort from a new group, but although good, doesn't really keep up the level of awesomeness (for lack of a better word) that can be seen at the start. If you were to download the album, I'd stick to the first half of the album, rather than the second. The good sounds though, were very good!
     I literally wrote this in half an hour, so I'm sorry if it's a bit rushed. It's just that I didn't post a review yesterday, and didn't want to leave the blog void of new posts for two days on the run. I'll check through the review, but if there's any mispellings or things that don't make sense, please comment! Anyhoo, this was a review for Broken Bells self-titled debut, a mix of electronic and rock that sooths as much as it does bore.