It’s been almost three years since The Shins got the Braff treatment in Garden State. You know, one of those movies about the depressed dude who “finds himself” by revisiting his old town and finding a new love. Oh, he found The Shins too. At times, it seemed like an ongoing music video for the sunny indie pop group, with Natalie Portman (recently overtaken by Scarlett Johansson for indie queen of the year) being the group’s cinematic quirky fan claiming that ‘New Slang’ will “change your life”. I’m not giving enough credit to the band though, because long before the band got their commericialized treatment in Garden State, they had one of the most dedicated followings for a group releasing their debut album in this particular decade. Chief songwriter James Mercer was always touted as having a similar vocal and melodic delivery to the legendary Brian Wilson, something that adds to The Shins’ bubbling originality.
Speaking of originality, their third album, Wincing the Night Away, is bursting with even more than the first two. Besides their already traditional nods to the Beach Boys and The Smiths, the group has taken on more atmospheric songs reminiscent more recently of the acclaimed Animal Collective or even the technological catchiness of New Order. Sure, you still have the sparkly pop with such songs as ‘Australia’, but the band seems to be taking a new direction with others like the odd ‘Black Wave’. The production seems to be a step up, with ‘Red Rabbits’ boasting a dynamic combination of twinkling keys and decorative strings forming around some dynamic guitar effects, concluding with a few strums of an acoustic guitar. The topics are diverse, as Mercer describes the songs’ influences ranging anywhere from My Bloody Valentine to Fugazi. The opener ‘Sleeping Lessons’ is a buildup to a momentous outburst of electric guitars layered by a constant synth, while ‘Split Needles’ is another example of their exposure of synth. After a few listens, Wincing the Night Away is most certainly the most experimental and well produced out of the three. I have yet to find a song on the album to be as catchy as some of their best, such as ‘Know Your Onion!’ or ‘Saint Simon’, but I have a feeling that the increased variability in their song structures will help make this one a grower. Wincing the Night Away will be released on January 23rd and I’ll review it in further detail as the actual release nears.
TRACKS REMOVED BY REQUEST OF SUB POP
Wow, awesome. I’m definitely going to buy this album. These are definitely much better produced than the last two albums, and therefore, they sound much more expanded and seem to allow for more creativity. Australia has a nice country-folk sound, and Red Rabbits is just cool. PLEASE KEEP ADDING MORE TRACKS, POUR MOI.
dude, i love it but try and keep some respect for the artist and the label’s wishes and stop posting this shit months in advance. like with of montreal. i know you read the Vanilla forum. you know how it goes. if you know you’re going to be threatened legally, then it seems like you’re only posting it to get a momentary boost in traffic from Hype. i’m not saying that’s necessarily why you posted it, but that’s sure how it looks.
Jeff, I appreciate your thoughts. However, my primary intention on here is to spread the word about quality newly released and upcoming material. I felt that the two MP3s supported my opinions of the new album above it, not as if I just posted “OMG NEW SHINZ!!” when I posted the mp3s.
I care for quality over traffic, as I’m sure you do too over at the DIY (one of the better blogs, btw). I’m just posting two highlights off of an album with eleven tracks, and if people like what they hear, then they can use the ‘BUY’ link to purchase the album… which I highly recommend (it has grown on me as my favorite album from the band).
I understand where you’re coming from though. I just enjoy mixing up the often “obscure” artists with a few popular ones like The Shins and Of Montreal here and there because I find it enjoyable to write about music that has literally hijacked my iPod. I do this for personal enjoyment and not for traffic. As long as more than one person is reading the site, I’ll continue to do it. Anyways, keep up the good work.
After a few cursory listens I coming out and saying, â€œ I love it.â€ It’s not nearly as immediate as Chutes Too Narrow–which should not be confused with not being as good. More so that not, it is a much slower, meditative and quite beautifully dense album. You can easily tell they got a big budget boost for this one and James and Co. put it to good use. His wordplay seems to be his longing, abstract poetry again and I know Iâ€™ll love picking it apart for a long time to come.
Many have said this is more of the same but I couldnâ€™t disagree more. If anything it sounds similar to Oh, Inverted World but the songwriting is much more mature, complex, and achieved. Some of the songs display an entrancingly hard groove–which is a welcomed departure from their strictly â€œart indieâ€ genre treading.
But despite the growth and exploration, The Shins are still The Shins, just a new, braver, more interesting Shins. All of the poppy and summery atmospheres we have come to love are present, but with Wincing The Night Away they have evolved from being a cutesy, albeit great, indie band to just a great, solid band. My only question is why is it coming out in two and a half months when theyâ€™re sending out advance copies now? Are they waiting for â€œGrammy seasonâ€?
Many have said this is more of the same but I couldnâ€™t disagree more. If anything it sounds similar to Oh, Inverted World but the songwriting is much more mature, complex, and achieved. Some of the songs have a hard groove which is a welcomed departure from their strictly â€œart indieâ€ genre treading. But despite the growth and exploration, The Shins are still The Shins, just a new, braver, more interesting Shins. All of the poppy and summery atmospheres we have come to love are present, but with Wincing The Night Away they have evolved from being a cutesy, albiet great, indie band to just a great, solid band. My only question is why is it coming out in two and a half months when theyâ€™re sending out advance copies now? Are they waiting for â€œGrammy seasonâ€?
Haha, ok. Thanks. And your “OMG NEW SHINZ” brightened my day.
“my primary intention on here is to spread the word about quality newly released and upcoming material. I felt that the two MP3s supported my opinions”
that’s great, but maybe you should think about who made the MP3s you are posting. they’re not yours. the band and the label put a lot of work and thought into deciding which single to release and when to release them. you taking those tracks that don’t belong to you and publicly releasing them on the interwebs however you please isn’t your decision.
I feel that by posting a small sample from the album, I am increasing the sales and reputation of the band.
The massive amount of Decemberists MP3s posted on blogs three months before the release of The Crane Wife didn’t hurt the sales at all, as it debuted in the 20s on the charts. The acclaim from internet sources boosted the sales, making it their most profitable to date.
I understand some labels have a difference of opinion, and I state at the top to e-mail me if they would like me to take something off. The kind folks at Sub Pop requested for me to do so and I complied immediately.
It’s really not a big deal.
Just a quick note. You might want to replace your photo of the Shins on this web site with a more current one, which you can find on the SubPop webiste. The photo you are currently displaying does not include Dave Hernandez, the fine guitarist added to the group after their first album.
I know the Shins well and how hard they worked on this album. Also, don’t forget that Joe Chicarelli deserves a lot of credit for helping to produce this album. The collaboration between Joe and James was exceptional. Both are musical geniuses.
Just curious. If you’re going to be talking about the new Shins album, perhaps you should put a picture with the new bass player? A thought