Student Voice


April 25, 2024




Broken Bells proves James Mercer's and Danger Mouse's musical genius

March 24, 2011

More often than not in the music industry, bands come together trying to form that mystical thing known as the “super group.” The truth of the matter is, the end result of most of these attempts is the same boring sounding Hodge Podge group, with too many conflicting personalities and musical personas to truly make any ‘good’ music.

Yet, every once in awhile these musicians form together and get it right.

That said, Broken Bells may be rather unknown in the music industry as of now, but I feel that they will most certainly make their impression felt on the industry. The sheer musical talent of James Mercer and Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) alone is mind-boggling, however with their recent formation of Broken Bells they build upon their talents even more so, highlighting particular attributes each musician brings to table in the new group.

Those of you readers out there not familiar with either Mercer, or Danger Mouse, really ought to check them out on this self titled album “Broken Bells.” James Mercer is the head of the ever popular indie group “The Shins” and despite a very successful discography with the group, recently began collaborating with Danger Mouse.

Now one may think with a name like Danger Mouse, expectations can’t really be higher for this musician. Fortunately for him, he backs it up.

He comes from the fantastically soulful group Gnarls Barkley, and makes some of the most powerful jams out there, with none other than Ceelo Green. Furthermore, Danger Mouse is also one of the music industry’s most in demand music producers.

To cut to the point, he’s a musical entrepreneur and fast growing idol for younger musicians.

With all that said, Mercer and Danger Mouse come from quite different musical backgrounds with this recent release but sound as if they have been playing together for years. Broken Bells is the epitome of experimentation for both of these musicians and even despite that, the album offers several singles soon to be found on the charts.

“The High Road” demonstrates the group’s attempt at a rather catchy pop song and makes for great listen for anyone of any musical interest. Moreover, my personal favourite song of the album must be “The Ghost Inside.” It mixes both musicians talents into a greatly melodic symphony for the ears. Hints of Mercer’s brilliant vocals intertwined with Danger Mouse’s enchanting piano playing, make this song a must listen!

Broken Bells has really hit the road running with this recent self titled release and portrays a bold attempt at breaking free from past groups and labels. Both Mercer and Danger Mouse left very successful groups when doing this collaboration, and show a great bit of growth as musicians with this production. 

In leaving behind such crucial groups as these two did, I have to wonder which band(s) will ultimately survive the test of time. Ultimately, Broken Bells captured the attention of a very wide array of listeners and intrigued audiences enough to wonder what’s next for Mercer and Danger Mouse.

All in all, enjoy this group while you can, embrace this talented duo, and hope they stick around for the long run.

Ryen Kleiser is a laid back biology student at UW-River Falls. He is hoping to become a well-known marine biologist and teacher.