The Shins spark but fail to ignite flame in our hearts

March 26, 2017

The Shins’ albums like “Oh, Inverted World,” “Chutes Too Narrow” and even “Wincing the Pain Away” felt comfortable and predictable, running with the dreamy indie rock melodies the group has become synonymous with. After a five year hiatus and several solo gigs, the Shins hit the music scene with a revamped indie rock album, “Heartworms.” Overall, the

album can be praised as an unexpected step forward for the group, but it’s not one to play on repeat for weeks. Hollywood’s dream girls no longer have tracks so deep they “change your life.

Compared to other albums, lead singer James Mercer describes “Heartworms” as more “handmade” and experimental, dabbling with the echoes of country music, sounds previously unexplored. (The Shins aren’t the first to diverge from comfortable indie rock; in 2015, dream pop artist Grimes, one of Mercer’s
influences, tried her hand at country style with “California”).

The album’s songs range from the standard “Shins sound” – the slow, sleepy indie singles like “Heartworms,” to hybrids of Mercer’s collaboration with Danger Mouse heavy with synthesizer as heard in “So Now What,” to pleasantly surprising poppy and upbeat songs like “Name For You.”

Mercer’s distinct voice provides a sense of cohesiveness throughout the seemingly contrasting sounds on the album. Speaking of vocals, as per usual, the lyrics don’t particularly resonate with the listener. They’re catchy and “The Fear” addresses Mercer’s struggle with anxiety, but other than

 that, lyrics can’t really be highlighted. Perhaps lyrics aren’t the most important aspect of an experimental album, though.

While the jarring sounds of the album aren’t particularly memorable and might throw off the typical Shins listener, there’s no doubt they’ll appreciate the thought and effort put into producing it.

Standout song: “Fantasy Island

Photos courtesy of Creative Commons, labelled for reuse.

 

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