REVIEW: Broken Bells – After the Disco

402b3c88“After the show it’s the after party, after the party it’s the hotel lobby,” said a rather reprehensible man once upon a time. But what happens after the disco? Apparently that’s what the still-a-bit-weird-to-us tag-team of Danger Mouse and The Shins’ James Mercer aim to find out on their second outing as Broken Bells.

They pick up sort of where they left off. While their first album was a triumph of indie electronica – see The Ghost Inside and The High Road – After the Disco pretty much gives its vibe away in the title. The hookiest of dance hooks rings in the first track, A Perfect World. Even with slightly empty lyrics it’s a solid beginning, but then you’re hardly going to turn to Broken Bells for deep philosophy, so we’re all OK here.

The album continues to further this fruitful marriage – the title track is a fab slice of Bee Gees induced disco-pop, Mercer’s uncharacteristically thin voice at times sounding like Will Young (no bad thing, except when it occasionally veers into Adam Levine territory). Leave It Alone seems slightly odd in its placement given the proto-ballad quality, but it’s a bare and brilliant showcase for Mercer sans production wizardry.

Songs like The Changing Lights – a personal highlight – No Matter What You’re Told, and Holding on For Life show that Broken Bells really do have a knack for a properly enjoyable chorus, which makes so much of this album a treat. But there’s a balance of light and shade here; for every disco hit, there are sparser songs like Lazy Wonderland. The key’s in the title really: what happens After the Disco? We carry on dancing for a little bit, then we get tired and emotional and we gently sway until the dawn. It’s pretty much the same here.