James Minchin
Nick Catucci
March 19, 2014 AT 04:00 AM EDT

After the Disco

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
genre
Rock

We gave it a B

Seeing titles like ”After the Disco” and ”The Remains of Rock & Roll” on the second album from Broken Bells — the luxe-indie collaboration between Shins frontman James Mercer and producer Danger Mouse — you might wonder whether they have taken a postapocalyptic view of music. Indeed on After the Disco, more so than on their spacier 2010 debut, they hoard shiny tokens of past pop eras here: tidy glitter-ball beats, Hall & Oates falsetto, even, in ”Control,” a hint of the riff from ”Hotel California.”

But the duo, who linked up after each found unlikely fame in the mid-’00s, dance to remember, not to forget. Though it’s with love that they stockpile these sounds, the mood is muted. Mercer’s preoccupied with shouldering through disappointment and resting ”weary bones,” and Danger Mouse coolly obliges him, curbing the tempos and lavishing his skills on gorgeous but drowsy details, like the gospel-inflected vocal layers in ”Leave It Alone.” It’s not that they’re memorializing music — even ”The Remains of Rock & Roll” simply seems to be about letting go of the past. It just sounds less joyful than such a liberation perhaps should. B

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