The Shins- Wincing The Night Away (Sub Pop)

The Arts — By on March 16, 2007 at 11:00 am

There is a problem when a band hits a home run with their debut album: When it’s time for the follow-up, the tastemakers move the fences back on them. The Shins saw these sort of renovations take place when their first record, 2001’s Oh Inverted World set the hipster universe on its ear with sunny 60’s pop-flavored tunes tempered with 21st century indie sense. Oh was such a tape-measure shot that when the band stepped up again on 2003’s Chutes Too Narrow, they found themselves thrown out at third trying to stretch a double. Of course, listening to it now (a few years removed from Zach Braff/Garden State/”songs that will change your life” overkill), you can’t help but think the ump blew the call. Chutes was another fine record from one of the finest groups of this era.

The Shins’ latest, Wincing The Night Away, is a line drive to the gap that gets out of the box at a steady gait with the chugging “Sleeping Lessons.” The band picks up speed on track two with The Smiths-y “Australia”, but then land on their ankle a bit awkwardly at first base with the fragmentary “Pam Berry.” All is corrected on the stately “Phantom Limb” (which is subtly reminiscent of Oh Inverted World’s centerpiece “New Slang”), and by the time of “Sealegs” it is apparent that The Shins have no intention of stopping at second. No matter that they sound like they’re getting tired on “Red Rabbit” (containing a rhyme about “sprites… standing up for their rights” that had me wincing the night away), “Turn On Me” is another classic- “Ticket To Ride”-rhythm and all. Fatigue sets in again on the spare and spacy “Black Wave”, but “Spilt Needles” and “Girl Sailor” have them in well before the third baseman’s tag, leaving James Mercer and company to dust off their collective uniforms during the gentle closer “A Comet Appears.” Call it three for three.

RATING (1-10): 8

    1 Comment

  • forart says:

    These guys can make music. An overall enjoyable listen. Though the production does seem a little too slick. I saw them live on Austin City Limits and their music translated amazingly well to a live format. I don’t know if this CD would fair as well as their last two, especially because of the production.

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