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Broken Bells 

Broken Bells (Columbia)

This fresh, if unlikely collaboration between artist/producer Danger Mouse---AKA Brian Burton---and The Shins' singer/strummer James Mercer is a case of lightning captured. The instantly registering, mid-tempo aesthetics of semi-forgotten '90s acts such as Primitive Radio Gods are married to layered harmonies, piano- and acoustic guitar-driven songcraft straight out of the '70s, an instant indie classic free of mealy-mouthed jangle or lo-fi boredom. (Witness the unholy hookiness of "The Ghost Inside" worming into your ear.) One tour through 10 tracks and you belong to it. What does it mean? Who knows? Perfect pop is its own excuse.

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