Meyrin Field by Broken Bells
Meyrin Fields is the latest EP by Broken Bells, the project of Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) and The Shins’ James Mercer. It’s hard to believe Danger Mouse has enough time on his hands to participate in all the projects he is involved with. Even more impressive is the quality of his work. It’s hard to say anything bad about Danger Mouse. Even when it seems like he isn’t trying, he is still better than a lot of people making music right now.
The album Broken Bells is a strong collection of songs. With the Shins on hiatus, it’s clear Broken Bells is Mercer’s focus, not just a side project to explore different musical areas. The partnership with Danger Mouse is a good match too. Though the album doesn’t really break any new ground, it is a good effort.
Meyrin Fields continues with the sounds set up on their debut. The tracks are all enjoyable and will hold up for repeat listens. It’s a good thing too because there are only four tracks here. And only three of them are new to this release, as “An Easy Life” was released as a bonus track on the iTunes version of their debut. Having been a little over a year since the last release, it’s slightly disappointing that the group only released an EP and not a full album. For this reason, and since the band isn’t really doing anything wildly different than what is expected of them, this release seems strictly for fans of the group. Anyone else should wait and see if Broken Bells follow this up with a sophomore album proper.
Fans of Danger Mouse should probably be more excited about his upcoming Ennio Morricone-inspired project, Rome, written and produced by Danger Mouse and film composer Daniele Luppi. Similar to the Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse collaboration Dark Night of the Soul (also the first time Mercer collaborated with Danger Mouse), Rome has been presented like a movie “starring Jack White & Norah Jones” (they provide the vocals on the album). On the previous outing in this style, David Lynch provided a 100-page booklet that served as a visual companion to the album. This time music video director and photographer Chris Milk has been assigned as the visual director, though few details have been given on what the visuals will be this time.
Projects like these have pushed Danger Mouse into interesting musical directions, and he is also presenting the music in new ways. The amount of creativity and effort that go into these projects make Broken Bells a little less interesting. Though the group may be Mercer’s main focus, it is hard to say the same about Danger Mouse. The music doesn’t necessarily suffer from this, but it sometimes leaves something to be desired.
Maybe it isn’t fair to judge Broken Bells against Danger Mouse’s other work, but there’s really no reason not to. On its own, the songs on Meyrin Fields are strong. They are worth a listen, especially for anyone who liked the previous album. If nothing else, this EP shows that the pairing is capable of continuing their partnership. A new full-length album would be a welcome addition to both Danger Mouse’s and Mercer’s catalogues.
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