Broken Bells, "Broken Bells"

Album Review
3.5
<p>Since becoming a hipster-household name six years ago with the release of "The Grey Album," <a href="/artist/danger-mouse/490128">Danger Mouse</a> has assembled an impressive roster of collaborators from all over the art-pop map, including <a href="/artist/beck/35340">Beck</a>, <a href="/artist/damon-albarn/37892">Damon Albarn</a> and <a href="/artist/david-lynch/182222">David Lynch</a>. The producer's latest musical partner, <a href="/artist/the-shins/401586">Shins</a> frontman James Mercer, hails from a cozier realm. But <a href="/artist/broken-bells/1134580">Broken Bells</a>-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 <a href="/artist/gnarls-barkley/727511">Gnarls Barkley</a>'s "Crazy" and the <a href="/artist/gorillaz/440071">Gorillaz</a>' "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.</p>