Broken Bells

Meyrin Fields EP

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When a producer as prolific as Danger Mouse and a songwriter as multifaceted as James Mercer get together, there are bound to be some bizarre studio concoctions. While their self-titled debut album as Broken Bells was promising, it occasionally felt like the duo was holding itself in check. Meyrin Fields, however, unleashes the more psychedelic side of the band's talents with songs that are less subdued and studied, and more fanciful and energetic. The EP is bookended by its two most fully realized songs. Though the moody title track was originally released as a B-side to "The Ghost Inside," it's a shame "Meyrin Fields" didn't appear on Broken Bells: Mercer warns, "It's coming, wait for it" over electronic squiggles and an oddly menacing bassline that has more weight and momentum than all the songs on Broken Bells' debut combined. This song and "Heartless Empire," which pairs the weirder side of Mercer's brainy, melancholy pop with intergalactic production by Mr. Mouse, show just how well they complement each other when they're firing on all cylinders. While the surfy "Windows" and the instrumental "An Easy Life" -- which recalls Danger Mouse's previous collaborators, Gorillaz -- aren't quite as full-fledged as the EP's other songs, they still show how dynamic Broken Bells' balance of solid hooks and sonic flights of fancy can be. In many ways, this glimpse at the strange underbelly of Mercer and Mouse's music is more exciting than Broken Bells was; at the very least, it shows that there's more life and creativity in this project than just the one album. Meyrin Fields may be under 12 minutes long, but it's still a musical goodie bag that sounds like it was as much fun to make as it is to hear.

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