MR|Review – Ted Leo And The Pharmacists’ "The Brutalist Bricks," Broken Bells’ "Broken Bells"

I write this as a guy who thinks “Shake The Sheets” is a 5-star record, and got into Ted Leo’s older stuff because of it and to the extent that it points toward “Sheets;” “The Brutalist Bricks” is less than the sum of its parts.

tedleo_jpg.jpg Must-hear!
Recommended
Good
Fans only
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Owww! My ears!

Leo & Co.’s inclusion of some fresh sounds – acoustic guitar, synthy noise – are welcome in theory, but make “Bricks” seem a bit too ProTooled.  Song arrangements depart from verse/chorus/verse, which, again, seems good on paper but never gels.  Wish I could say it did; my hopes were high, but this is a classic record that’s for fans only.  If you don’t love TL+P already, “The Brutalist Bricks” won’t convert you.

brokenbells.jpg Must-hear!
Recommended
Good
Fans only
Skip this
Owww! My ears!

As impossible as it would seem to predict before hearing “Broken Bells,” this superduo’s debut – the Shins’ James Mercer and Danger Mouse (The Grey Album, Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz’ “Demon Days” – sounds about like you’d expect. And it will probably deliver at about the level you anticipate.

I imagine it went down like this:

1) James demo’d some songs

2) DM took each element, chords, vocals, lead lines, etc., and treated them as sample sources for his own re-creations

3) Voila; “Broken Bells.”

I’m sure it was more collaborative than that, but that’s about what we hear.  And it’s super-solid; no more, no less.

MR|Review directs readers’ limited attention among works via ratings, and within works via prose, focusing on works where our opinion diverges from critical or popular consensus, or we have significant insight that compliments or challenges readers’ aesthetic experience.

One thought on “MR|Review – Ted Leo And The Pharmacists’ "The Brutalist Bricks," Broken Bells’ "Broken Bells"”

  1. Love Broken Bells. I was antipating this since January. I don’t think it will be leaving my car for a long time. I got it on vinyl, and it comes with a code to download it as well. Howie, where the heck do you get a copy of the grey album? I have no idea.

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