After The Disco

Broken Bells

Released: 3 February 2014

Genre: Pop

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Danger Mouse and James Mercer enjoyed their one-off so much, it's become a two-off.

Four years back, it seemed an unlikely collaboration – the arch hip hop cut-up merchant and the singer with indie tunesmiths The Shins – but time's revealed that Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) will turn his hand to whatever he fancies. A go at producing U2? Why not? An imaginary film soundtrack indebted to Ennio Morricone, starring Jack White and Norah Jones? Sure! In this company, Broken Bells are ordinary.

Which may be a problem. What was charming about the first album seems rather inconsequential this time around. That's not a problem with the songs per se, because Holding On For Life is a lithe slab of electrofunk, The Changing Lights is mature and considered R&B and Medicine is a blues groove with gorgeous harmonies – but on the whole it's all rather familiar.

Mercer has a distinct melodic gift that can deliver bright choruses on No Matter What You're Told and the title track, and conjure a melancholic air across Leave It Alone and The Angel And The Fool. Coupled with Burton's dusty, lived-in production it forms a very grown-up kind of pop. That's not a bad thing in anyone's book, but a bit of oomph and daring would've made this a more rewarding second outing.

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