Posted by: will | January 22, 2007

The Shins…

The Shins “Wincing The Night Away” (Sub Pop)

Buy it at Insound!

The Shins return with their much hyped and long-awaited third album, Wincing The Night Away. The Shins have outgrown their indie tag and carried over into mainstream waters. It’s easy to see why. The band’s pop song-craft is certainly impressive. Will the band continue to chalk up more of their usual patented brand of pop or will they look to experiment with their sound?

Album opener “Sleeping Lessons” is a beautiful departure for the band. The song sees the band creating atmospheres rarely heard before in their songs. The song crescendos into a striking start to Wincing The Night Away. “Australia” and the album’s first single, “Phantom Limb”, see the band dipping their feet into more familiar waters. They are both beautiful pop songs that The Shins have all but trademarked by now. The band seems rather determined to experiment instrumentally on Wincing The Night Away. “Sea Legs” has an almost hip hop beat running through the entire song. You also see some electronic flourishes popping up here and there on Wincing The Night Away. On “Red Rabbits” you have electronics and orchestration backing Mercer’s stand alone vocals. However, the album loses it’s momentum after that. Other than the sharp “Girl Sailor” the second half of the album simply falls flat. It is quite shocking to witness, especially from such a consistently strong band.

Shins front-man James Mercer is the primary songwriter for the band. His songwriting on Wincing The Night Away is noticeably more reserved. This is by far the least accessible record the band has created. The band is in the unenviable position of setting the bar too high. Too often these songs just do not measure up to older Shins songs. They are good songs…just not great, which is what you come to expect from The Shins. The band has created quite a different album with Wincing The Night Away. I find it exciting that the band did not take the safe route and instead chose to experiment with their songwriting. While it might not always work it certainly makes for a compelling listen…just not necessarily a great album.

RIYL: The Beach Boys, Guided By Voices, The New Pornographers


The Shins – Phantom Limb (mp3)

The Shins – Sleeping Lessons (mp3)


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