I can promise you that you’ll enjoy the buttery, flaky Tartine-inspired scones featured over on eating/sf. They are in a whole other league from those crumbly, dry, tasteless scones you’ll find at some places. These guys are moist and flavorful. They promise and then follow through. Similarly, when James Mercer, the lead singer of the successful jangly pop group the Shins, announced a collaboration with Danger Mouse, the producer/musician behind the Grey Album and Gnarls Barkley, high expectations were set. Like the recipe for Tartine’s scones, said collaboration – Broken Bells – lived up to the promise.
To be honest, I initially felt somewhat let down by Broken Bells album, but now that I’ve listened to it a few times, it is hard to say why I felt that way initially. Both artists leave their comfort zone for this project – which makes for a rewarding experience for fans of either musician’s previous work. Danger Mouse avoids the sample and beat-heavy music he has relied on in other projects and Mercer works hard to avoid falling into his Shins-esque safety zone. Even Mercer’s vocals pushed into experimental territory dabbling occassionally in a deeper register (“The Mall and Misery”) and with higher falsettos (“The Ghost Inside”) compared to his previous work on the Shins’ records. Nonetheless, despite traveling in unfamiliar territory both artists find sure footing every step of the way. Alternating slick shimmering synths buoyed by thin, upbeat percussion light up the melody on album opener and lead single “The High Road.” All of this isn’t to say that the duo avoid their strengths all together, and occasionally, Broken Bells hint at the artists’ other projects. The wistful bedroom pop of “Citizen” would have felt at home on any of the The Shins’ records and the digital twinkling of “October” could be a close relative to any of the Danger Mouse produced tracks on Beck’s Modern Guilt. Buy it at Insound.
Head back to eating/sf to read the recipe for Tartine’s scones.