Review of Meyrin Fields EP by Broken Bells

A collection of rarities and b-sides can usually be found in the back catalogue of many an aging band. Re-packaged, added content, remixes, live or demo versions are dug up from every corner of the recording studio and belted on to the original release in the hope of ringing a few more dollars out of the vintage material. Not so often, in fact barely ever, is it the norm to 'find' and package such material after just one album release. Broken Bells eponymous 2010 debut was successful in pleasing the critics, accountants and public simultaneously. Brian Burton and James Mercer combined as if they had a life time of partnership and collaboration behind them to produce one of 2010's better albums, and one that was high among the year end top 10 lists. Whilst this latest EP doesn't really represent a directors cut or special addition of the album it is still material that either didn't make the final edit or has surfaced as a bonus to other releases. As a vehicle to maintain interest in the band and show a direction and attitude that are not necessarily characteristic of the album it works well.

Broken Bells Meyrin Fields EP

Meyrin Fields has a feel all of its own and and has cohesion as a four track EP. The production is more aggressive, assertive and immediate. It lacks the finesse and subtlety that its fore bare bathed in but this is in the most part a welcome departure as the bursts of energy release themselves without hesitation. The slightly less calculated approach means we get an unreserved, unrestrained, less stuffy and consequently very enjoyable quartet.

The title track opener is an electro heavy tune full of looping synths with a rythmn punctuated by fifties fictional space age. The Jetson's stun gun meets Scotties original teleporter somewhere amongst Lost In Space as the looping synths sweep and swirl in a blanket of sound. 'Windows' continues in a similar vein with a splishy-sloshy synth bass line that sounds as though it was recorded under water. The revolving retro riffs combine with the high vocal to produce a B52's (Planet Claire) meets Gorillaz sound. (Is that Damon singing?) 'Easy Life' then saunters in loaded with summer scents, reggae references and a 60's lilt before the closer 'Heartless Empire' closes out the 4 tracks with a fully blown sound that fills every crevis with delay, fuzz and more whirring keyboards.

In Meyrin Fields, Broken Bells have both satisfied fans eager to devour every last piece of output and frustrated the very same with its brevity. The 4 tracks combine well together and have you wanting more, and hopefully that'll be enough before that more manifests itself as album number two. The Mercer and Dangermouse duo delivers such a rich and fertile sound full of a pop panache that others can only seek to emulate resulting in music that's very hard to resist.

Andrew Lockwood.

Site -