Brian Burton was the most entertaining person of the 00’s whose name no one would recognize. A few more people would now his stage name Danger Mouse. Yet everyone is familiar with his most famous work as one half of Gnarls Barkley who created the greatest experimental pop song since When Doves Cry.
It was an odd decade for Brian Burton. He started off by perfecting the mash-up with The Grey Album which took acappella from Jay-Z’s The Black Album and backed them with instrumentations taken from The Beatles The White Album. That actually led to producing jobs for acts ranging from Gorillaz to Beck to The Black Keys. But his most successful collaboration came with Cee-Lo Green.
Even though everything he has done has been ear candy, you still had to scratch your head when Burton’s latest collaboration was with James Mercer of The Shins (who are best known for not changing your life as Natalie Portman promised). Even though Mercer and Green have little in common other than working with Burton, Broken Bells is similar to Gnarls Barkley that just trades Green’s Deep South soul with Mercer’s acoustic guitar.
Both groups’ first singles were these big huge pop sounding songs with an undercurrent of moody and somber tones. While the rest of the respective album tried to reach the cultural high point to little avail. But unlike Gnarls Barkley where Danger Mouse provided the music for Cee Lo to sing his songs over, Broken Bells is a more collaborative effort with the duo putting their two cents each on the music and lyrics which reigns in Burton who went a little too out there with his beats with Gnarls Barkley. Here on Broken Bells, his eclectiveness only comes in small bursts like the opening moments like the opening bars of The High Road.
Though The High Road is the high point of the debut, there are some other gems to be found Vaporize starts out what could be a Shins song with just guitar before a half a minute in before Burton adds some fuzzy keyboards onto the track. While Your Head Is on Fire is a weird trippy Beach Boys type song heard through Danger Mouse’s usual psychedelic filter. Though Gnarls Barkley never reached the heighted of Crazy on the sophomore effort, The Odd Couple was a stronger album as a whole. Here’s hoping the next Broken Bells record follows the format.
Song to Download – The High Road
Broken Bells gets a on my Terror Alert Scale.