Broken Bells, "Broken Bells"

70 Billboard Rating

Since becoming a hipster-household name six years ago with the release of "The Grey Album," Danger Mouse has assembled an impressive roster of collaborators from all over the art-pop map, including Beck, Damon Albarn and David Lynch. The producer's latest musical partner, Shins frontman James Mercer, hails from a cozier realm. But Broken Bells-the name of the duo's collaboration and self-titled debut-is still long on the tasteful psychedelic textures that Danger Mouse has brought to hits like Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" and the Gorillaz' "Feel Good Inc." The new album's opener, "The High Road," revs to life with the sputter of what sounds like an arsenal of vintage keyboards, while shivery film-score strings coat Mercer's sad-guy croon on "Citizen." The singer matches Danger Mouse's inventive sonics with his usual complement of twisty-turny melodies and dense wordplay, though compared with the Shins' relatively high-octane 2007 release, "Wincing the Night Away," such jangly space-folk tunes as "Vaporize" and "Sailing to Nowhere" can seem a little snoozy.