Brian ‘Danger Mouse’ Burton rose to fame on the back of his Grey Album, a computer-assembled mash-up of Jay-Z and Beatles songs. Despite subsequent work on millions-selling albums by Gorillaz and Gnarls Barkley, the beat-maker has never gotten full credit as a brilliant musician. It’s as if people still think he’s lifting his cheery, psychedelic sounds off obscure LPs.
The sonic backdrop of Broken Bells, the 32-year-old’s new partnership with James Mercer of The Shins, should sound familiar to fans of his previous projects. Burton’s playful electronics, bubbly organs, sped-up vocals and crisp snares are the closest thing to an aural cartoon, and this voyage into space-age elevator tunes is the farthest he’s gone from his hip-hop comfort zone. Mercer’s melodious falsetto unexpectedly hovers and darts like a dragonfly above the cinema strings and digital bleeps and bloops. The guy has always had a captivating natural rhythm of his own. At first the entire affair comes across as meringue-light; with patience, it reveals fresh, complex flavours.