Broken Bells
Into the Blue


4.0
excellent

Review

by MOYA USER (3 Reviews)
October 8th, 2022 | 16 replies


Release Date: 2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "There is hardly a moment in my life, when I don't recognize a slow decline"

First the title, "Into the Blue," makes me wonder if Mercer and Burton are referencing 1977 ELO. Maybe they are drawing attention to their age. Mercer is now 51, and maybe conscious of having passed the peak of his career. What happens to a band after it comes out of the blue? Where can it return to?

The first line of Saturdays hit me as the theme of the album, placed squarely in our faces. Mercer's awareness of his slow decline has us cheering for him. We wonder if he still has got it. Is this album going to impress us? Was Mercer proud of it? The follow up tune "The Chase" continues the theme. Just thinking about a chase towards something undefined, into the blue, gives a clear image of the mindset of an artist contemplating the end of their own career. Not that we want the careers of these two to end, not at all.

Broken Bells have not disappointed with this release. First of all, it is a full album, hitting over 40 minutes. I wanted to comment on the waiting period, 8 years since the last EP, with a string of 3 independent singles in between. By the way, "Shelter" and "Good Luck" are great songs, and I was a little surprised that they weren't on this LP.

Musically, the album represents a mature indie pop project, with an overall structure that reminds me of Mac Miller's "Circles," except for adults. It's the "all grown up" attitude that makes the album stand out from other indie projects. The vocals in general resemble the spaced out and stoic presentation from the band's first release. The tone is pensive and introspective, which is nicely complemented by a string of slow tempo tracks, which are to be taken seriously. Mercer asks big questions, and often concedes that even at his advanced age, the answers he seeks are always out of reach. It's the kind of album an adult indie fan can listen to while pretending their life is part of a movie. You know you like to listen to indie music and do that, yeah you do.

The slowest tracks on the album are the strong points in my opinion. By "slow" I mean literally slow, with respect to tempo, and not overly hyper or energetic. The first four tracks fall into this slow tempo category. The opener introduces us to more sonic layers than we are used to from the band, making for an interesting first listen, and encouraging more and more listens. The layering effect also applies to "Love on the Run," which I seem to enjoy more with each listen. I am also a fan of the new LP version of "We're Not in Orbit Yet." I think the tempo overall is slowed down from the single version, giving a more epic cinematic effect, accentuating the seriousness of the message of the song. The two closing tracks are also slower, and serve to continue the theme of searching for something, which something may be in what way to go about ending one's music career. I admit that I was disappointed at first by the closer, because it is certainly not "The Mall & Misery," grabbing your attention from the first note and holding it. It doesn't do that at all, but I think it has the potential to grow on you.

A notable exception to my above claim about the slower tempos is "Saturdays," a certain highlight. It is more upbeat, with an interesting grating, scratching sound, and a 60s psychedelic rock style guitar. I think Saturdays is an important release from Broken Bells, as they have bent genres and given us an accessible pop song. It ((might)) be a hint at their future directions.

I have been a Broken Bells fan for years now, and I like all of Mercer's work, all the way back to Flake Music. This album is an important comeback for the group, and serves to tell us that Broken Bells are still ringing, even if the message is actually to tell us that they feel they have passed their peak.


user ratings (31)
3.5
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Gyromania
October 9th 2022


37187 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Cool, I've gotta check this one

Ecnalzen
October 9th 2022


12163 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Nice. Wasnt expecting a review for this to pop up till later down the road

AffableMartyr
October 9th 2022


822 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Love on the run is a mood

kodama
October 9th 2022


186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love this one.

Colton
October 9th 2022


15411 Comments


cover art is walmart brand Mercurial World

WillieD
October 9th 2022


367 Comments


This was a pleasant surprise. I was pretty disappointed with the second album, and while this one is certainly not nearly as strong as the first, it's an enjoyable listen.

MOYA
October 9th 2022


6 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I jumped at the chance!



Oh no Sowing rated lower than me



Gyromania
October 10th 2022


37187 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Hmmm this is pretty damn boring. Nowhere near as good as the self titled

theBoneyKing
October 10th 2022


24502 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Obligatory for me as well, though I will say the first listen went a bit better than I expected. Definitely a more “mature” thing going here, but there’s a fine line between that and boring. I can’t say I’m as into Burton’s signature spacey production and drum sound as I used to be though.

Gyromania
October 10th 2022


37187 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I'm inclined to agree with that. This is a total dud and the last one did little for me too. As far as Shins, I think there are some great songs sprinkled throughout Chutes, Wincing, and Port, but Inverted World is their best album by a mile. I got absolutely nothing out of Heartworms

Ecnalzen
October 10th 2022


12163 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

So you're saying I should check these guys original projects



I'll consider it

MOYA
October 10th 2022


6 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"The Shins" by Flake Music, and "Sleeping Lessons" and "Australia" by The Shins.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
October 10th 2022


5959 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This kinda jams so far (halfway through my initial listen), my first experience with Broken Bells though

Ecnalzen
October 11th 2022


12163 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

The Shins it is! I always just knew that one of these guys was Danger Mouse



Their earlier stuff is better, agreed with what others are saying, but I still find this enjoyable

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
October 11th 2022


5959 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

After a few spins, this is enjoyable but gets a little bland in parts. Some good highlights though, especially Love On The Run, Saturdays, and Forgotten Boy.

Ecnalzen
July 14th 2023


12163 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Love on the Run is very nice, oh my



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