Danger Mouse and James Mercer, in their continued collaborative effort, Broken Bells, have set a high standard for the remainder of 2014 in After the Disco. In what may best be, appropriately, described as a post-disco soundtrack to the re-emerging New Wave trends in popular music, this incredible followup to the group’s 2010 debut combines melancholy lyrics with indulgent synth riffs, recreating the macabre sense of a 40 year party’s end. If that was a little too adjective-laden, you have my sincerest apologies. The simple fact is this album is amazing.
I’ve already seen a number of analyses focusing on the “disco” aspects of the product, some going so far as to compare AtD to the works of the Bee Gees, and I find that unfair and at least mildly inaccurate. This album certainly features some high-notes in its vocals, and plenty of catchy bass lines; but musically, the album carries itself well enough to breach past decades-old genre conventions. The album seems, in many respects, to be a reaction to various musical trends from numerous generations that plays ironically with their key fundamentals.
Stand out tracks from this album include the titular “After the Disco,” and the lead single, “Holding on for Life,” which set expectations abuzz for this final product. Anton Yelchin and Kate Mara’s presence in the single’s video certainly had our household agasp. Die-hard fans of Broken Bells’ debut album will enjoy “Medicine,” which is reminiscent of its consistency, while playing with radio-pop rhythms. “The Angel and the Fool,” another single, has vague hints of something from “While my Guitar Gently Weeps,” in a most interesting way. The highlight, for me, comes in the album’s opener, “Perfect World,” which features great lyrics, solid production, and sets the stage for an amazing listening experience.
The group’s sound has unquestionably moved forward since their debut, and mid-stage EP, but this movement is also unquestionably positive. A great soundtrack to a hangover, as has been mentioned by other critics, or as the soundtrack to the party itself, After the Disco is everything I hoped it would be.
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