Nearly all the publicist-penned treatises about Broken Bells, the collaboration between Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton and James Mercer, insist that Broken Bells is not tied to the invididual members' past successes. "It's the Broken Bells," press releases repeatedly state. Yes, it is, but really, there's no way to separate the two incredible driving forces behind the band -- it couldn't be one without the other. How the pair's innumerable music skills jell here makes Broken Bells' lush, pop-drenched odes to love, eternal wisdom, and outer space work so well. Look, Burton's perhaps the planet's hottest musical entity, part of Gnarls Barkley and the mega-hit "Crazy," while his production acumen lands artists, including the Black Keys, Grammy nominations and awards.
Next in line: U2. Mercer is the indomitable voice of The Shins, a compelling songwriter able to mix melancholy mood swings with glorious uplifting pop swells that tear at the senses. His shape-shifting falsetto voice infectiously captures Squeeze ("After the Disco") and the Bee Gees ("Holding On to Love") -- with the right balance of emotional depth -- while Burton's snake-like grooves amid electronic accentuations, organ swirls, and punchy guitars stick in the brain. Sure, it is Broken Bells. But without acknowledging the past, Broken Bells would be just broken. -- Glenn BurnSilver