Danger Mouse is bound to go down as one of the greats of our time. He’s worked with The Black Keys, Beck, and The Gorillaz. He’s also one half of Broken Bells as well as one half of Gnarls Barkley. Oh yeah, and he mashed up Jay Z’s The Black Album with The Beatles’s The White Album to create The Grey Album, one of the most popular mash-ups ever created.
Now, he’s created another distinct record. This time with the help of Daniele Luppi, who’s worked with Broken Bells, John Legend and The Sex & The City score. Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi have brought us Rome, an epic album that brings back the massive sounds of Italian spaghetti westerns scores (think Ennio Morricone’s score to A Fistful of Dollars or The Good, The Bad and The Ugly)
Big strings and choirs are found all over Rome, and the atmosphere is heavy indeed. The strong marching drum beat on the opener, “Theme From Rome” is a great place to start the journey. You feel like you’re stuck in a desert, just like Eastwood’s Man with No Name. The Man with No Name gets a voice on this record, and Jack White is just the right guy for the job. White’s vocals are rough and sexy on “Two Against One”. Here, White proves himself to be the only man worthy of this project.
The female vocals are done by Norah Jones, who carries herself in the best way that she can, given her songs. There’s no doubt that Jones’s voice is great, you can hear it all over her 2010 album The Fall. But of the few times she shows up, one of the songs, “Season’s Trees”, is just boring. Not even Jones can save the song from being unmemorable. Luckly, Jones gets a better track to show off her voice with the sexy track “Black”.
Rome is the lost film score to the film that never saw the light of day. With it’s instrumental interludes that are perfectly sequenced into the album, this record is more about building a mood, or a backdrop than telling a story. If you were expecting a big concept album, you won’t find it here.
While Rome shows it’s influences in older film scores, lots of the songs here, thanks to White and Jones, fit in with music being right now. Although Jones could have been given stronger tracks and White could have shown up more than the time he was given, they are the only people who could really pull this off.
Rome shows it’s epic scale with no shame and it’s better because of it. The old fashioned film score sound works better than you think it should, and it holds up. Yet, for an album this epic, it’s criminally short. Clocking in at a little over half an hour. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly went on for three hours, and with Rome we get 35 minutes. Director’s cut?
Rating: 7.1 out of 10.