Broken Bells – The High Road

It’s so disarming to see performers you’ve only heard about. When you hear something from Danger Mouse, you think of this big, powerful lug, dragging the past into the future all with the help of a perfectly utilized 60s-sounding organ. You get a certain vision of the man after listening to him wrestle the Beatles onto Jay-Z tracks (and inadvertently start the “Mash Up” craze that ended with Jay-Z making an album with Linkin Park, for chrissakes). After he teamed up with Cee-Lo to have one of the biggest singles of the decade, putting pure pulp pop under therapy sessions. Now he’s making heartbreak alt-pop with James Mercer, taking his unique voice from the Shins and making him into some sort of haunting figure that hovers over the track.

Throughout their self-titled album, the pair create these large, swooning songs with gross changes seemingly just because he has another great song he can’t keep down.  Like all of Danger Mouse’s work, he suckers you in with a catchy hook and subtly infuses it with a pop record’s biggest component:  pain.  He wasn’t listening to British rock records just for the hooks.  And as we look in on these two artists surrounded by their band, they look as normal as can be.  Maybe I have grown up on MTV, expecting everyone to be some sort of superhero with a guitar, not, well…guys. Not flashy in any sense of the word. Just a couple of dudes in a room rocking an incredible song, perfectly in time, doing their thing.  There’s something incredibly refreshing about that.

Then again, if DM was bright green and looked like the Toxic Avenger, I wouldn’t give a fuck if he kept putting out records like The High Road.

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