All signs pointed to a fantastic collaboration between Producer and Songwriter Brian Joseph Burton, aka Danger Mouse and Shins lead James Mercer. Back when their eponymous album was announced in 2009, folks were excited. Two great minds of music meeting up? It was gonna be FANTASTIC! Joy abounded. But when Broken Bells came out in 2010, I, along with most others just said; “Really? That’s it?” In the end, it just felt odd; as if James Mercer was abducted and forced to make songs in a fashion he wasn’t comfortable with. There were exceptions. “The Mall & Misery” is one hell of a song, and “Vaporize” was a Shins song, no matter how hard the duo insisted it was theirs. Nope. Classic Shins. So maybe that’s why this new collection by Broken Bells is heavy on the bleep and fuzz. It’s an effort to further define their sound into something recognizable. Lead “Meyrin Fields” is a mind trip with a mutated baby chasing after. It ain’t swell. “Windows” is a blade-rocker; bass heavy and solid throughout. But it’s a big mistake to distort Mercer’s voice. It loses charisma and flavor, which leads to a skim-able song. “An Easy Life” is a funky instrumental, great, along with picking your belly button lint, to pass the time by. I was (finally) impressed by “Heartless Empire”. It lets Mercer soar on thermals of whistles and guitar riffs. So, all in all, the Meyrin Fields EP is only something to seek out if you’re starving for any hint of Shin-like crumbs underneath the table. Grab “Heartless Empire” and move on.
(The Meyrin Fields EP is available now from Columbia Records)