It’s been a while since the Shins have released an album but they haven’t been doing nothing. Singer James Mercer has recorded an album with Danger Mouse under the moniker of Broken Bells. If you think Shins songs with different instrumentation and production… well, you’re really not far off on some songs like ‘Vaporize’ or ‘October’. The production is low-key but good and almost never strays into the hard sounds that make the Gnarls Barkley albums so effective. Only ‘The Ghost Inside’ is reminiscent of the GB beat. It shows once more that Danger Mouse is one of the premier producers of the last few years. Mercer’s songwriting should never be subject to suspicion either as all songs here carry the Mercer mark. If you can write songs that sound like you wrote them even though they are recorded differently you are a true master in your craft.
The album definitely has it’s moments, but don’t expect a 1+1=3 album. The talent of both artists doesn’t mean an even better album. It’s a pleasant listening experience but there are not enough memorable moments to make this album a contender for album of the year. 3 ½.