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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “Oh London moon, help me stumble home. Let me lose myself along the way.”
The first moments of After the Disco set the stage. A low, growling series of synths comes into orbit, checking in after Broken Bells’ space voyage that began in 2010 with their eponymous debut album. James Mercer speaks to us about hope and tragedy, love and loss, and bittersweet optimism. Things may be looking down, but "it's a perfect world all the same."...
Published 10 months ago by Thomas Jordan

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile at best.
I loved Broken Bells first album and had high hopes for this one. I waited a week before submitting a review as I really hoped it would grow on me. It has not. There are some nice moments and overall I liked Holding on for Life and Leave it Alone. Still it pales in comparison with their self titled debut which I found to be much more poignant. I think they really...
Published 10 months ago by B. Dulin


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “Oh London moon, help me stumble home. Let me lose myself along the way.”, February 10, 2014
This review is from: After the Disco (Audio CD)
The first moments of After the Disco set the stage. A low, growling series of synths comes into orbit, checking in after Broken Bells’ space voyage that began in 2010 with their eponymous debut album. James Mercer speaks to us about hope and tragedy, love and loss, and bittersweet optimism. Things may be looking down, but "it's a perfect world all the same."

There’s nothing here that you haven’t heard before, and that’s exactly why the band's second studio album shines. The music may be more uptempo this time around, but returning fans will find themselves pleased, if not even more satisfied. The band’s sexy marriage of electronic and acoustic is even more abundant in this collection of tracks. Mercer's mournful stream-of-consciousness vocals and lamenting guitar work and Brian Burton tight, flawless backbeats work in a way that music shouldn't, and that's why this collaboration continues to be so special.

After the Disco comfortably evokes sounds of U2, especially in the opening track. Fitting, then, that Burton (better known as Danger Mouse, one of the many mau5es of excellent music production) would be underway with the production of U2's latest album. But while Bono cries of worries and socially-conscious concerns, "Perfect World" paints an image of hope for tomorrow amidst the worst of the worst. It’s hard to not visualize The Edge clipping through the soaring guitar at the midway point.

"After The Disco" and the later "Control" and are like two sides of the same glittering coin, outright homages to the dance grooves of the mid-seventies. The organs and watery guitars are ripped directly from the cheesiest vinyls from the dance floor, and work very, very well in the capable hands of the duo.

The bridge into the album for returning fans is "Holding On For Life," which sounds like it could have belonged on the initial release until the chorus. Track 4, "Leave it Alone," caught me off-guard with a guitar hook lifted straight from the Stones’ "Gimme Shelter" overlaid on the otherwise ethereal indie song, and of course, it works. The wide backing vocals are a real treat in headphones, too. More props to Burton's roomy production work.

The standout track is "The Changing Lights," slipping into a new wave groove perfect for late night drives with Mercer’s darkly matter-of-fact lyrics stating “I saw that look on your face / You don't need me now, and sometimes you wonder if it's off / Just another mistake, and why don't you just walk away?” This song first clicked with me when a video was released of an acoustic performance in a Parisian piano shop, but the album cut stands on its own as my current favorite. Track 9, "No Matter What You’re Told," is a close second, a 1960s surf-pop cruise, complete with staccato horn stabs, whimsical backing vocals, and a gnarly guitar outro.

"Lazy Wonderland" is a sun-baked lucid dream where Mercer’s vocals musically and lyrically get their justice. One wonders if an early 1980s version of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band would have had a similar sound to this track. The follow-up, "Medicine," is a Queens of the Stone Age song after an indie makeover, and is dying for a poppy, colorful iPod commercial treatment.

More Beatles influence shows up in "The Angel and the Fool," which weaves somewhere around the chord progression from "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." I found myself starting to doze at this point during my initial listen of the album, which I think is a testament to the dreamy, if uneasy, vibe. "The Remains of Rock & Roll" is a sultry sendoff as the emotional comedown after the disco. One by one, the party dissolves, and leaves us with the resonating echoes of the album’s sonic journey.

Since "The High Road" first slipped into my ears, this band has been a massive influence on my own sound. While After the Disco features more electronic sounds and less of the acoustic percussion of the previous release, it’s hard to have any issues with the end product when it sounds this good. In an era where its hip to be funky, like Daft Punk’s love letter to the 1970s, Random Access Memories, this album slides beautifully into the growing niche and is a valuable addition to the music world.

[...]
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Adventures of a Martian Kidnapping an Indie Guitarist, February 5, 2014
This review is from: After the Disco (Audio CD)
You found out about this album because of 'After the Disco' and 'Holding On For Life', right? I don't want to spoil the surprise, but what if I told you those aren't even the best tracks on this record?

If you like the first Broken Bells album, The Shins, or anything Danger Mouse touches, then you're going to feel obligated by law to get a copy of the Broken Bell's new record, 'After the Disco'. Featuring The Shin's talent of James Mercer fused with Danger Mouse's instantly recognizable production, 'After the Disco' feels like a martian that has been studying Earth music for the past three decades abducted a folk/alternative rocker, only to land back on Earth with a new definition of what future rock should sound like, hidden in an album that will catch you totally off guard.

This isn't an album where you have to listen to it a second time to figure out if you like it or not, it's an album will push its way to the top of the stack after the first listen. Every track on this album is unique; you never have a problem trying to figure out when one track ends and another begins. One great thing about Danger Mouse is that he likes to approach projects with the 'less is more' attitude regarding the sound. He doesn't cram tracks with every sound wave he can think of just because it's possible to do that, and the way James Mercer compliments this attribute equals just the absolute perfect mix of cosmic folk and groovy funk in the form of a brilliant record.

It keeps a big grin on your face, your head rocking side to side, and your feet uncontrollably dancing around every track. I can't give away anymore information without ruining your first listen, just take my word for it. Dive into the cosmos and see what happens after the disco.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than the debut, March 4, 2014
By 
joey johnson (Winfield, WV United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: After the Disco (MP3 Music)
These guys have figured it out !!!. Yes, there are still bits of quirky sounds in the songs, but they make a little more sense this time around. Compared to the first CD which had quite a few good moments, this is much smoother, singable, more flowing and all the songs have better arrangements.

This CD has no "skip over it" songs. You can put it in your car's CD player and just let it play. It's all very very good stuff.

James Mercer and Brian Burton are in a literal groove in their writing skills. There are 3 magnificent tunes back to back to back - Holding on For Life, a 70's type Bee Gees-sounding disco number, Leave It Alone, a soft acoustic guitar type song with beautiful harmonies in the chorus, and my personal favorite The Changing Lights, a smooth vibe with a killer chorus that artistically paints a great picture and sets a mood through its meaningful lyrics.

What kept me really tuned in on the first listen was the variety in the songs as a whole and how they cleverly interspersed these different ideas throughout the entire CD. Overall this is just a great display of talent these guys possess. A lot of songwriters will be envious of the ability James and Brian have to craft beautiful music as they have.

When it comes Grammy time, this will probably be about as good as we get !!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh is it brilliant, February 5, 2014
This review is from: After the Disco (Audio CD)
I love danger mouse, and I love broken bells even more. This album will seriously grow on you, that's Danger Mouses game, the more you listen the more you like. I've listened to this album maybe 10 times already and I can't stop listening. The album starts off by getting you into an upbeat groove for the first two songs, then it goes to the single "holding on for life". It's a good set-up to slow down the pace and enjoy how catchy the song is, it almost reminds me of get lucky a bit. 4 and 5 are both ballad like and slower, but they segway right into my favorite "stonerish" part of the album. Six through eight is a brilliant piece of music, combining many noises and having upbeat and catchy style to it. The end three slow down a bit more again, but instead of being a ballad they keep the catchy and noises of the previous songs. All and all this is a complete album, when you listen to it you know the songs belong to an order. I think they are the best group around right now, if not best they are damn close.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great album with nods to both disco and modern electronica, February 7, 2014
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This review is from: After the Disco (MP3 Music)
I really enjoyed this sophomore effort from Broken Bells, which is the collaboration of Danger Mouse and The Shins frontman James Mercer. While the 2nd half of the album lost a little bit of energy, the front half has several outstanding tracks. There some similarities here to the way that Daft Punk used disco beats and themes on 2013's excellent "Random Access Memories", except that the arrangements and vocals here are totally unique. If you are fan of other indie/alternative groups that have synth/electronica influences (heavy parallels to Cut Copy came to mind), there's a lot to like with this album. I actually think I prefer it as an overall album to their debut effort.
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26 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Album!, February 4, 2014
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This review is from: After the Disco (MP3 Music)
**Updated review: Album goes from "great" to "good" after a few weeks of listening**

These songs exude color and character individually and collectively. The songs truly build one another up and lend way to a listening experience that is pure joy. Listening from start to finish left me anxious to listen again. I suspect I will become more enchanted with this album after further listens.

Update: I am disappointed to discover I found myself increasingly bored after further listens. This only implies that the music fails to sustain interest but still maintains the characteristics that I describe below. I blame the lack of more organic, deeper sounding drums and deeper, richer riffs for the sterility that leads to an arid-ness after becoming overly familiar with the songs. It hasn't held my interest the way I initially thought it would. For this I feel a sense of sadness, disappointment. But it is still good.

The instrumentation used to primarily carry the melody of any particular song (guitar/keyboard/synth) is fabulous. The bass lines are beyond great, not limited to being accents by easily attracting attention without being too intrusive. My personal preference left me feeling the drums to be a little sterile on a few tracks. There are several tracks I would exclude from such judgment; however, with every member in the band (all both of them) being accomplished with a drum set (as I understand), I am holding them to a higher standard. It is not an issue with my over-all opinion of the album; none of the tracks are overly weak as a result. The vocals are virtually flawless. James Mercer has a beautiful voice that brilliantly polishes any given song. I find, on this particular album, his voice is more than "good" sounding (as it is on all his recordings) but it adds that extra flavor to the orchestration which helps lend way to their appeal. The song writing, the arrangements, the production, all done exceptionally well (with some of the drums being the exception). These songs are are fun yet sophisticated enough to be interesting. This is pop-rock at its finest. A good album indeed.

Anyone who appreciates the "Broken Bells" previous work shouldn't be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brave, daring music project from a couple of great, established musicians, July 30, 2014
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This review is from: After the Disco (MP3 Music)
I have to admit that I am sort-of a jaded old man in his early 30s who thought that 2005 was the pinnacle year for indie music. I buy a lot of music and have found it harder and harder to find music that just takes me to another plane. The last time I was absolutely wowed by an album was back in 2010 with Avi Buffalo's first release. However, come 4 years later Broken Bells has taken me to that plane and made me feel that sense of magic like I felt going to music festivals in the 2000s.

I think that it is to James Mercer's and DangerMouse's advantage that they have already established successful music acts in the past. I believe this makes them free to take more chances with song structure, melodies, etc. Of course, with great risk comes great reward and I believe the music world everywhere has been greatly rewarded with this latest album from Broken Bells.

What I love most about this album is the daring and unconventional everything. It's got James Mercer's classic egoless lyrics and restrained, melancholic guitar lines with DangerMouse's perfect compliment of synths. My favorite tracks are "After the Disco" and "Leave it Alone." This is as close to a perfect album as we can get in 2014!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You won't be the same "After the Disco", March 12, 2014
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This review is from: After the Disco (MP3 Music)
First of all: James Mercer is one of the most talented lyricists I have ever come across. This imagery is so simple and powerful and evokes so much emotion with so little effort from his vocal cords. If you're a fan of the quietly-burning-style of The Shins, or if you've never heard of The Shins, you'll still dig his lyrics.
This album is definitely better than the first Broken Bells album (which I also loved, but didn't love as much as this one. Thank goodness albums are not like children and I can pick a favorite guilt-free).
My favorite track of the album is "The Angel and the Fool".
The theme that runs through the album is the likeness between a fallen angel and an alien from outer space. The songs capture the sense of outer-space, loneliness, and confusion of what it is to love and lose the euphoria of adolescence (which is, in a sense, falling to Earth, and subsequently falling through a vast void).
I am obviously NOT James Mercer and have difficulty coming up with ways to explain my thoughts.
I've listened to this album five times since I bought it a few days ago, and with every listen, I find something new.
Hell, I'm just going to stop writing this review and listen to it again.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW...SHEER PERFECTION !!!!!, February 4, 2014
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This review is from: After the Disco (Audio CD)
What a team! Their first album was delightful, but this one kicks @ss, well beyond my highest expectations! No fillers here...eleven beautiful gems, wonderfully and lushly crafted by two of the most talented gentlemen in the industry. I'm in the middle of my second listen and am already fully captivated by these songs. Broken Bells has really delivered it big time, this time. This album is sheer perfection...get it and enjoy!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, February 4, 2014
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This review is from: After the Disco (MP3 Music)
The lead singer for The Shins sings alongside great beats and instrumentals creating a more electronic sounding but still great music project. Its good music.
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After the Disco
After the Disco by Broken Bells (Audio CD - 2014)
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