Archive for the ‘the shins’ tag
It feels strange – wrong almost – to be reviewing the Shins. They feel much older than they actually are. By now, the band appear to be engrained within society, a part of popular culture, yet popular in the way of a bygone era, sort of like the Beatles. For a generation of us, the Shins comprised nearly the entirety of our welcoming committee to the world of indie rock. There was 2001’s (can you believe it– 2001!) fantastic Oh, Inverted World; 2003’s even better Chutes Too Narrow; 2007’s more produced yet still magical Wincing the Night Away. Then of course, there was the film Garden State which crowned the Shins as the band that would “change your life” and gained them just as many haters as it did appreciaters. It’s almost unbelievable that their entire discography consists of only three full-lengths, because the Shins have provided us with so much for so long. What is there left to give?
After a little ditching and switching around between band members, the Shins are back– James Mercer (thankfully) still at the helm– with Port of Morrow. However, despite the new lineup and the controversy surrounding it, Mercer makes sure that this new music is not foreign or unfamiliar to those who know the band. It’s the album’s first single that feels as if it could sum up everything that the Shins are about: “Simple Song.” This is what Mercer does best, no matter who else he’s got by his side; and this is why we still welcome him back with open arms every he leaves us. The Shins may have ditched some members, but they haven’t ditched what makes them great.
Beautiful melodies, charming, 60s style arrangements, jangly guitars and effortlessly nostalgic lyrics have come to be the Shins’ trademarks, and there’s all that and more on Port of Morrow. The tracks on the album are in constant states of flux, flitting around between genres and eras without subscribing to one sound in particular. It makes for an enjoyable listening experience; the songs feel more produced, just as they did on Wincing the Night Away, but not much is lost in the process. “Fall of 82,” “Bait and Switch,” and “September” are some of the album’s highlights, the latter in particular which sounds like the musical equivalent of a magical journey under the sea.
It’s been five years since we’ve last heard from The Shins. Thankfully, they’ve just released a B-side to their previously released single, “Simple Song.” The new track, “September,” is a pretty straightforward Shins tune. It delivers an easygoing sound and a lasting sense of clarity, so long as you don’t think about what the lyrics mean. James Mercer, the lead singer and songwriter for the band, has always written cryptic lyrics, which is perhaps part of the reason why I am so drawn to the music. “Simple Song” and “September” are the only two bits of music that we have from their upcoming album Port of Morrow, but I couldn’t be happier with them. The band’s fourth album drops on March 20th, so mark your calendars. From what these songs sound like so far, this should be another great album from a consistently solid band.
Guest post by Matt B.