Funky beats and the familiar voice behind the Shins combine surprisingly well for the band's second studio album.
Record label, release date and producer: "After the Disco" was released by Columbia Records on January 31, 2014; it was produced by Brian Burton.
RIYL: Arcade Fire, if that band performed in space. In the '70s. While skateboarding.
Hometown: Los Angeles
About the band: According to Wikipedia, James Mercer of the Shins and Brian Burton of Danger Mouse and Gnarls Barkley decided to collaborate in 2004 after they met at a festival and discovering they liked each other's music.
Standout tracks: Chill track "Leave it Alone" is mellow, but not enough to bore, while "Medicine" demands a get-up-and-dance vibe, complete with disco point.
About the guests: The 17-piece Angel City String Orchestra provide ample strings while a four-piece choir supplements vocals, both of which add layers of complexity to the album.
Did you know? Broken Bells sold out shows on their first tour following the release of their first, eponymous album.
Notable lyrics: The harmonic imagery of water and fire -- "I'm down by the fire/At the oceanside/Just waiting for that underwater world to say goodnight" -- prompts thoughts of a utopian paradise in "Lazy Wonderland."
About the album art: The out-of-this-world-psychedelic purples, blues and pinks of the album art are a reference to 1950s science-fiction books and their conceptions of the future.
What the critics say: Clash compares Mercer's falsetto tones and "funky, mid-tempo" beats to the long-time favorite disco/pop band Bee Gees.