From its oddball synth-and-drum-machine opening, Broken Bells’ self-titled debut succeeds as a quirky yet approachable musical offering. That’s not to say we’re surprised by BB’s strong first showing. The band boasts lead vocals from Shins frontman and reigning indie rock king James Mercer. And those groove-worthy synths and backbeats? That’s production wunderkind Danger Mouse. Reputations and backstories aside, Broken Bells the album is a crafty mix of hip-hop slickness and dreamy pop structures. Where “October” is a jaunty little ditty driven by parlor-style pianos and a whole lot of layered vocals, “The Ghost Inside” epitomizes artfully done electropop, complete with computer-generated hand claps. Even better, the duo channel their best Ziggy Stardust on the spacey sounding “Your Head Is On Fire,” proving once and for all that Mercer’s voice is an intoxicating listen, even when it’s buried in reverb and effects.


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