Broken Bells: After the Disco – review


"I don't need anything from you", goes the refrain to The Changing Lights, one of the standout songs on this album. It then alternates with another line, "I'll still be waiting there for you." Both phrases capture something central about this second collaboration between producer Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse) and Shins frontman James Mercer. Firstly, they give a sense of the album's lyrical themes – decline and disruption, but also a resilience borne of experience. Secondly, they put a finger on its musical ambitions; nothing revolutionary, but something refined through years of practice. Mercer is skilled at creating a sense of melancholy, but his stories all exist in a world of jaded Americana that can feel rather familiar, and his images rarely stop you short. The music, meanwhile, hits touchstones of 80s synthpop and Lynchian rock (Burton has collaborated with the director in the past), and After the Disco has some memorable hooks, but it doesn't quite lift this work beyond a studied genre piece. Still, if you like mid-life indie ballads given a cinematic electronic makeover, this is for you.


Paul MacInnes

The GuardianTramp

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