Wincing the Night Away
The Shins originated from Albuquerque, NM in the late '90s,
and are now based in Portland, OR. On their third album, The Shins continue
to produce the catchy, innovative, indie pop for which they are known.
Google the phrase "the band that will change your life" and you'll get countless webpages
talking about The Shins, thanks to the 2004 movie Garden State in which Natalie
Portman made such a declaration about the group. Such an endorsement in a popular film
plus the high quality music found on The Shins' last album (2003's Chutes Too Narrow)
and the group found itself with boatloads of new fans.
The band has added a depth to their sound on the new album that keeps it fresh and interesting.
For example, the album's lead-off track, "Sleeping Lessons," begins as a moody, almost Ultravox-esque,
atmospheric piece that eventually settles into the bouncy guitar-pop that generally defines the band.
Like many of the band's songs, the single "Phantom Limb" is catchy but somewhat inscrutable. Frontman
James Mercer said in an interview last year that the lyrics describe "a young, lesbian couple in high
school" living in a small town. However, you'd be forgiven not figuring that out from listening to the
song or even reading the words.
The real strength of the band is their catchy hooks, and the essence of the band is the winning melodies
and intriguing sound. Near the end of the album, there's a song called "Spilt Needles" which features the
lines, "So spin the wheel, we'll set you up with some odd convictions/Because you're finally golden, boy."
The Shins, too, are finally golden, with a highly anticipated album and one that delivers on its promise.