‘Disco’ Indie Pop

In the spring of 2010, musical masterminds James Mercer (of The Shins) and Brian Burton (AKA Dangermouse) released a huge project called Broken Bells, which was essentially indie pop rock on steroids. No one expected there to be a sophomore album from this side project. Yet only Mercer and Burton could balance their musical focuses with a follow up to the self-titled. “After the Disco” is a fun, unique twist on the sound they established with their first album. Even more refined and powerful, the album is insanely catchy with its mild yet memorable tones of disco synth. The theme is post-apocalyptic disco  and each track wonderfully conforms to this.

Courtesy of Columbia Records

Courtesy of Columbia Records

“After the Disco” opens with “Perfect World,” a track that essentially yells, “Hello David Bowie!” with more electro pop disco infusions. The lyrical value of this album is insanely high, and one should not expect any less from Mercer. This track keeps you grounded throughout with a guitar riff that takes you out of the sometimes-mundane nature of disco funk.

The second single (and title track) from the album follows. “After the Disco” is more generally pleasant indie pop accompanied by the now-popularized lyric video. It is easy to listen to, and makes for obvious popular radio play, as does “Holding on For Life,” the first single from the album. The music video for this song oozes cosmic symphonies and tells a playful “boy-falls-in-love-with-spacegirl” story. Mercer and Burton make cameos in the video, which features bright hues of neon pink and green.

“Leave it Alone” is yet another track accompanied by a lyric video with stunning graphics. It is a little slower paced with an acoustic guitar riff that seems rather reminiscent of The Shins and introduces choirs with unique vocalists. It’s a little more rock and roll and tries to connect with listeners in the lyrics.

“After the Disco” begins to wind down in the last few tracks. “The Angel and the Fool” is pleasantly accompanied by more choirs, and “The Remains of Rock & Roll” demonstrates that the album is trying to bring back rock & roll with a twist. This track ends album on a happy note.

Overall, “After the Disco” is well crafted and enjoyable. It does a fantastic job emulating a post-apocalyptic disco sound and each track is distinct and memorable. Mercer and Burton refine a low-key synth sound that is not overbearing and meshes well with the acoustics and instruments used in the album, and the production quality fits this sound perfectly. Broken Bells are essentially crafting a similar feel to that of Arcade Fire’s “Reflektor,” but they take a completely different and unique approach, which creates a beautiful follow up from their self-titled first album.


RECOMMENDED: “After the Disco” crafts a synthy, rock ‘n roll sound reminiscent of bands like Arcade Fire.