‘Rome’ doesn’t quite live up to standards

Danger Mouse has established himself as an artist to be watched during that past decade, specifically by his mash-up album, “The Grey Album” and his work with Gnarls Barkley. Being a self-proclaimed auteur, it should have been expected that Danger Mouse would attempt something as ambitious as a cinematic excursion that tagged the likes of Ennio Morricone.

“Season Trees” is the first track to hit a mark. Norah Jones’ vocals are lush and evocative, and here we find Danger Mouse’s signature funk and Beatles’ psychedelia blend. However, the track is far too short; perhaps an interesting, orchestral bridge would have given the track a grander statement.

Coupled with the stunted track lengths, the interludes feel empty and uninspired, hardly more than fillers.

On the whole, the tracks seem to meander and merely pay homage to the idea of spaghetti Westerns rather than being inspired, reinvented embodiments of the genre. The album is a nice listen, good for road trips possibly, but on its own legs it has no range, its orchestration doesn’t strike a chord and the tracks themselves don’t feel very inspired. Instead they feel like glimpses of things that Danger Mouse likes rather than a cohesive symphonic pop collaboration. That being said, the album is also made monotonous by the shortage of dynamic shifts. The lack of volume modulation creates an unchanging soundscape that doesn’t provoke or engage the listener head-on. Because of that it ends up being more background music than the sprawling epic that it aspired to be.

“Roman Blue” is an instrumental that recalls a bit a of Air’s “Virgin Suicides” score or Phoenix’s “Run Run Run.”

“Two Against One” is the first track that is musically involved. Built on a clipping guitar rhythm and thick, slick bass groove, the track struts aimlessly, but not without at least perking up ears.

“Rome’s” best moments are when the guest singers join, but it never feels as though their presence is anything more than an addition. Their feature never feels integral to the music or the album’s sound. The album is self-indulgent in that it celebrates its playing off of its influences, but it never makes anything of those influences. “Rome” is an album with the potential to be a long player; however it sits in the realm of unique candy pop. Despite Danger Mouse’s extensive pop career, he never finds that balance between ambition and directness.