It's all been done before.
Broken Bells released its sophomore album, "After the Disco," Tuesday. With it, the band also unveiled its version of pure indie electronic rock ... plagiarism?
The duo, consisting of Brian Burton of Danger Mouse fame and The Shin's vocalist and guitarist James Mercer, brought their backgrounds together again for grooving beats and melancholy lyrics.
However, it sounds like they also brought back other artists' songs for too much inspiration.
The first track, "Perfect World," and the single, "Holding On For Life," actually sound like semi-original, intentional songs, but besides those two, it is all mediocre attempts at artistry.
"After the Disco" sounds like Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" with more teen angst. "Lazy Wonderland" acts like an electronic attempt at "Strawberry Fields Forever." "The Angel and the Fool" may as well be rock's version of the beat from Macklemore's "Neon Cathedral."
As gifted as musicians as Burton and Mercer are, this could be one of the most frustrating albums of alternative, indie, electronic rock and R&B to be produced. It sounds more like they are trying to leave the disco and a drunk girl is physically trying to pull them back into the club.
Yet, despite the copycatting and unfathomable genre, it is an entertaining album as a whole. Audiences don't often get to hear grown men reach for their falsetto unless they're singing smooth pop or piano ridden melancholia. And they hardly ever get to hear experimentation in such high quality. Normally, we are stuck with scratchy tracks recorded on 2007 Macs in someone's parent's basement.
This is a puzzling dilemma. On one hand, it is addictive. On the other, frustrating.
Their first self-titled album sounded like a playground where the duo ran rampant doing whatever their hearts desired. Still an indie success, the band's new album comes with a message and cohesion their first one lacked, which may be the cause for the higher sense of appreciation.
"After the Disco" grew from the idea of wondering what happens after we grow up, or what happens after the disco — a fitting topic for weary college students. Through lyrics as in "Holding On For Life," Mercer expresses the fear we experience in growing up, singing, "You're trying not to look so / Young and miserable / You gotta get your kicks / While you can."
Relateable lyrics are hard to ignore. Like when every hipster high schooler tried to hate Taylor Swift, and they were all secretly singing "Teardrops on My Guitar." "After the Disco" is no different.
The record is loaded with lines that release the inner wary, uncertain adult in all of us. "Leave it alone," Mercer pleads in "Leave It Alone." Short, simple, but a nearly daily thought by many of us, and at least "Broken Bells" is capable of providing us with lyrics we just seem to get.
At first, this album seems brilliant. Then, it kind of sucks. But, upon a third, good, long listen, it makes sense. Waste your time on this. Just listen to it with headphones on.
The sound difference is insane.