Broken Bells
After The Disco


3.9
excellent

Review

by Hernan M. Campbell STAFF
February 5th, 2014 | 50 replies | 9,877 views


Release Date: 02/04/2014 | Tracklist


After The Disco is Broken Bells' attempt at making an album that, while still exhibiting a dash of the duo's musical ingenuity, is more centered around instant accessibility than dazzling artistry. James Mercer's pensive lyricism and Danger Mouse's ability to mold sonics and structures into catchy, abstract-pop continues to be a potent blend throughout After The Disco, only this time, there's a sense of bristling energy and fun that wasn't really found in the emotive art-folk of their eponymous debut. Our first impressions of the album, "Holding On for Life" and "After The Disco," gave the illusion that Broken Bells had crossed into the '80s "futurism"-inspired, dance-pop of today's mainstream, and while there is some truth to that, what Mercer and Danger Mouse are offering us here is a multifaceted album. From the themes in Mercer's lyrics, I get the sense that this album is about arriving at a crossroad in one's life-- and the feeling of one realizing they need to grow and mature as an individual. In other words, this is a coming-of-age kind of album, and so, much like in life, there's moments of pleasantness and melancholy to be found here. While tracks like "Medicine" and "No Matter What You're Told" continue along on the danceable and synth-laden grooves of the album's first two singles, others like the gloomy acoustic piece "The Angel and the Fool" and the soulful "Leave it Alone" show Broken Bells occasionally slowing things down in favour of a more pensive breather.

One of After The Disco's biggest strengths is that it shows a greater balance of ideas from its two masterminds. Where Broken Bells tended to lean far too closely to Mercer's folk-rock roots, and Meyrin Fields' genre-morphing spree sounded like Danger Mouse experimenting with sonic alchemy, After The Disco displays a sense of focus that feels like the two musicians finally coming together as a band-- although, unfortunately, the album is not quite as sonically diverse as one might hope. One of the many reasons that made both Broken Bells and Meyrin Fields such enthralling listens was the duo's sense of adventure. And while I do consider After The Disco's catering of wistful dance-folk tunes a success, Broken Bells were always most exciting when they were challenging themselves artistically. I suppose that's why I personally enjoyed "Perfect World" so much. To me, "Perfect World" shows a rare balance of art and appeal that is lost in most of the other tracks. It transcends beyond the typical pop paradigm, and amalgamates '80s new wave and cosmic psychedelia with stunning eloquence. Nevertheless, After The Disco's simpler dynamic -- despite my own personal disagreements with it -- is what in the end makes it Broken Bells' most infectious album to date. It might not be as adventurous as its predecessors, but it's still one of the 'smarter' pop albums out there. This is the kind of pop album that not only keeps your head nodding to the rhythm of the music, but has your mind pondering the lyrical message in every track as well. I would have loved to hear the duo continue along the creative paths set out by previous tracks like "Mongrel Heart", "Your Head on Fire" and "Heartless Empire," the type of compositions that indulge in surreal ideas, but I suppose After The Disco's cohesive amalgamation of pop, folk, and ambience better increases the duo's possibility to convert the nonbelievers that their prior efforts weren't able to convince.




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Comments:Add a Comment 
SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
February 4th 2014



4415 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

I might change that summary once I think of something more clever, but right I'm now I'm to beat to think clearly. Let me know what you guys think of the review and the album. I've been studying the short-sweet-and-to-the-point approaches of Adam Thomas and Sobhi as a way try and grow as a writer. so I hope I at least got somewhat of a handle of that art here.


Recommend tracks:
Holding on for life
Perfect World
The angel and the fool

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tommygun
February 4th 2014



24629 Comments


whoa hernan lives

gotta read

Digging: Broods - Evergreen

LilLioness
February 4th 2014



2496 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

t/t best track

tommygun
February 4th 2014



24629 Comments


nice review man digging the concise conversational tone here

album sounds cool will give er a spin

PistolPete
February 4th 2014



3591 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Unreal review, everything was articulated so well. I liked the direction quite a lot on this, and it's far more consistent than the S/T in my opinion.

Digging: Jolly - The Audio Guide to Happiness (Part 2)

tommygun
February 4th 2014



24629 Comments


double post

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
February 4th 2014



4415 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Thanks guys. I appreciate the kind words.

@Tommy
Hey man. Definitely check out the ones I recommended. The whole album is quality stuff though.

tommygun
February 4th 2014



24629 Comments


will do

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
February 4th 2014



3442 Comments


sweet rev as usual hernan, you write "broken bell's" at one point but otherwise yeee

although isn't "soul&b" kinda redundant 'cause there's usually a heavy-ish soul influence in rnb? would "white-boy r&b" work better?

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
February 4th 2014



6993 Comments


I like your shorter reviews.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
February 4th 2014



4415 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

Thanks, Robert.

@Will
I fixed that, thank you. I saw the 'soul&B' description somewhere in a review, and I thought it was kind of clever. Although I meant to say RhythmN'Soul. I Don't know why I put that. But it sounds retarded either way, I'll change it.

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
February 4th 2014



3442 Comments


no prob, haha. the only decent permutations of rnb I've seen are pbr&b and white-boy r&b, it's a tough term to mess with

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
February 4th 2014



6097 Comments


pbr&b i love it

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
February 4th 2014



4415 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

@Brostep
I just ended up going with something simpler. Thanks for the tips/typo catches though.

----
I did some last minute edits. I'm so spaced on cold medicine. If there's any other typos or stuff I didn't catch let me know and I'll fix it in the morning. cheers, guys.

Pavelboca
February 5th 2014



82 Comments


Not crazy about this record as mentioned in the other thread but good review- I guess I won't write a review on this now!

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2014



15893 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I wish I heard in this album what you did...to me this album was very harmless and bland. At most points not even that memorable. Their first album was definitely better.

Nice review though.

Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

BlueW
February 5th 2014



2094 Comments


i like the cover a lot

RadicalEd
February 5th 2014



2593 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great Review. Liked their first album, but it didn't really wow me, like I hoped after listening to High Road. Will definitely check this though.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
February 5th 2014



7365 Comments


Great review, Hernan. Glad you're still writing.

Digging: 68 - In Humor and Sadness

Gyromania
February 5th 2014



15506 Comments


add this summary: not a kingsoby review

great review btw. i have to check this out; i was totally enamoured of their last album when it came out (granted i don't fancy it the same way today)



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