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'After the Disco' finds its magic in thought provoking lyrics

By Kathleen McWilliams
On January 22, 2014

When the Shins' James Mercer and producer DangerMouse collaborated to form band Broken Bells nothing short of experimental genius ensued. The duo's chemistry hit the ears like an explosion of fresh creativity on their 2010 album "Broken Bells." After a highly anticipated EP "Meyrin Field" in 2011, the duo has been quiet due to Mercer's 2012 album with the Shins and DangerMouse's busy production schedule. Understandably so the duo's 14 songs were not holding over fans and the group announced a forthcoming album in 2014. However, there was some confusion over the release date with sites such as Pitchfork Music and Metacritic reporting that the new album "After the Disco" would be released on Jan. 20. In fact, the album will drop on Feb. 4 and sources have been unable to confirm whether the release date was intentionally pushed back or simply reported incorrectly.
Dates aside, fans are eagerly waiting for its release, especially after the duo released the title track in early January. "After the Disco" is in the same style and uses the same aesthetic as Broken Bells' first album. Mercer's unique vocals are supported by a sparse but intricate synthetic background and given structure by some monotonous percussion. Like the first album, the magic in the "After the Disco" is in the lyrics that truly make the listener think. It is rare today to find artists who strive to get their listeners to transcend boundaries of human thought and Mercer's lyric-writing strives to do just that. Not to be cliché, but it's pure poetry. You hear a lyric such as "But after the disco the shine just faded away," and you're supposed to remember your own experiences of disillusionment and growing up. It's a classic example of a coming-of-age tale within a song. But more importantly, the lyrics are intentionally vague, just the way a poem's are, so that the listener can discern his or her own meaning.
In terms of the melody and harmony on "After the Disco," the theme throughout the song seems to be more upbeat than the duo's previous work. It has a bit more groove in the background melody and it will be curious to see if that idea is carried over to the rest of the album. The song has a slightly 'disco' feel to it, which is a clever way of incorporating the material in the song with the musicality.
"After the Disco" is a promising teaser of what the rest of the album will feel like. Broken Bells fans who have played the debut album countless time in anticipation of the new release will be pleased with the title track and will be tense with anticipation for another week.

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