Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Broken Bells - Meyrin Fields EP review

Extended Plays are funny little things because they tend to be the embodiment of two possible scenarios:  

Scenario #1: The EP is comprised of subpar songs that were deemed too inferior for inclusion on the LP and instead were relegated to the EP release.

Scenario #2: The EP is a legitimate release that showcases the bands current creative output.

Broken Bells, the moniker of duo Danger Mouse (aka super-producer Brian Burton) and James Mercer of The Shins, are set to release Meyrin Fields, an EP consisting of four brand new songs. The EP will be their first release since last year's self-titled debut album, which, despite the strength of its singles, did not impress me all that much.  Fans of the debut album will be happy to know that the collaboration between the two was not a one off, and that the pair do intend to record a follow-up album, others, myself included, will utter a single "meh" at the prospect of another Broken Bells album, but until then, we have the Meyrin Fields EP.

All of the bells and whistles are present for this release, and Burton's slick production is at the forefront.  Burton and Mercer try their hardest to create lush, sonic soundscapes.  It's obvious that they are trying to captivate their listeners, but the problem lies in the fact that their soundscapes just aren't very interesting.  Listening to the Meyrin Fields EP is like driving through Kansas or some equally flat midwestern state.  It is well produced, but there are no trees, no skyscrapers, nothing but large expanses of flat land peppered with corn fields and the occasional sunflower.  To put it simply, every once in a while there are glimmers of something innovative, but mostly it's just downright boring.

I have to admit that it isn't all bad.  The title track is a jittery and brooding electronic tinged number that is unsettling but sexy at the same time.  The other three tracks that populate the EP are rather generic, and sound as if they were more the product of Scenario #2 rather than Scenario #1.  Nevertheless the EP is here, it is real, it is tangible.  Polyphonic rhythms courtesy of the guy from The Shins and the guy who mashed up Jay-Z and The Beatles enter your ears and are transmitted to your brain via tiny electric signals...something tells me that you know there are flaws when you find the process of hearing the music more interesting than the music itself. 

Broken Bells - The High Road

Broken Bells Meyrin Fields EP

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