Song Review: Broken Bells' "The High Road"

12/29/2009 Posted by Admin

By our guest blogger, Alex Pinto

Broken Bells is a new collaboration between Danger Mouse and the Shins’ frontman James Mercer. Sound unlikely? Not so much, on the surface. Danger Mouse has worked with quite an eclectic set of musicians in the past five years, so to hook up with the leader of a very popular band does not seem outrageous. What are surprising are the results.

When Danger Mouse worked with Cee-Lo, the oddball funkster/hip-hopper’s style melded beautifully with Danger Mouse’s ear for a good hook and a strong beat, and resulted in the wildly catchy Gnarls Barkley album. Same goes for "Demon Days"--the existing Gorillaz flavor seemed to match up divinely with DM’s sound, resulting in a remarkable album. “The High Road” collaboration doesn’t have that feeling of two vital elements flawlessly and chemically joining, and bringing out the best of each side.  Instead, it feels more like an especially dense Shins song with some bleep-boop synth and extra bass sprinkled in.

Which isn’t to say that that’s a bad thing--on the contrary, the song is definitely worth a listen and the LP is likely to be great--but the initial synth line and pronounced beat-drop at the beginning, classic Danger Mouse moves, seem like a fake out when those elements end up taking a back seat and only coloring in the texture rather than taking a primary role in the song. If you were hoping to hear what James Mercer sounded like in a hip-hop/pop/funk/spectacular context, you may be disappointed. Rather the opposite “what if...” question is going to be answered: Danger Mouse adding his sound to a mellow nostalgic-alt-rock album.

We’ll have to wait until March 9, 2010 (or until the inevitable CD leak) to find out what the rest of the self-titled album will bring to the table.

Listen to "The Hight Road" below. Thoughts?

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  1. WEB SHERIFF said...

    Who You Gonna Call
    Tel 44-(0)208-323 8013
    Fax 44-(0)208 323 8080

    Hi Alex,

    On behalf of Columbia Records, Monotone and Broken Bells, many thanks for plugging "Broken Bells" / the artists’ eponymous album on your site (street date 9th March) ... thanks, also, on behalf of the label, management and artists for not posting any pirate links to unreleased (studio) material and, if you / your readers want good quality, non-pirated, preview tracks, then full length versions of "The High Road" (as already featured by you) and "Vaporize" are available for fans and bloggers to link to / post / host etc at ... .. for further details of the new album, special pre-orders, on-line promotions, videos and 2010 shows, check-out the official site, as well as the artists’ MySpace at and YouTube channel at ... .. and keep an eye on these official sources for details of further news, preview material and on-line promotions.

    Thanks again for your plug.

    Regards & Season’s Greetings,