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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars i can't possibly praise this album highly enough
everything i heard about the shins before hearing this album seemed to portray them as a quirky, odd, 'indie' band. this all may be true, but it somehow makes them sound like an exclusive underground thing. their music, however deserves a much wider audience. after a few months of owning this album, i can confidently say that it is the best pop album of the last 5 years...
Published on 30 July 2004 by debaser@etoast.com

versus
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Competent, neither good or bad, mellow soft rock that fails to excite
This review comes from an internet game. You buy an album you've never heard of from a shop. Then you write your impression of it before and after listening to it for the first time.

---BEFORE LISTENING TO IT---

WHY DID YOU SELECT THIS ONE? I think this is the album that gets a big plug as life changing music in Zach Braff's Garden State (2004) film...
Published 12 months ago by BS on parade


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars i can't possibly praise this album highly enough, 30 July 2004
This review is from: Chutes Too Narrow (Audio CD)
everything i heard about the shins before hearing this album seemed to portray them as a quirky, odd, 'indie' band. this all may be true, but it somehow makes them sound like an exclusive underground thing. their music, however deserves a much wider audience. after a few months of owning this album, i can confidently say that it is the best pop album of the last 5 years. singer james mercer is without doubt the latest in a line of brilliant american songwriters, from brian wilson over black francis and rivers cuomo. the ten songs featured here are beautiful and uplifting, each single one has a brilliant melody.
track by track:
1. kissing the lipless: a low key opener, a grower rather than an attention grabber. starts with a strummed acoustic guitar and then almost turns into a full on emo-rocker. but not quite. 8/10
2. mine's not a high horse: a subtle yet insisting melody, nice keyboard arpeggios in the chorus. 8/10
3. so says i: a full on jangly guitar rocker, also the first single. very enthusiastic singing and great guitars just make me wanna get up and do something. the lyrics are basically a big telling off for man "we are a brutal kind". 9/10
4. a relaxed acoustic number, once again a fantastic melody and cool lyrics. 8/10
5. saint simon: the stand out track, an absolutely stunning piece of music. a beautifully sung hauntuing melody against a complex, lush musical background; the best song of the century. 10/10
6. turn a square: a rockier number guaranteed to put a smile on yer face: "a glimpse of her ankle and i, react like it's 1805" 7/10
7. pink bullets: another amazing song. the lyrics are pure poetry, the song itself is a thing of true beauty. a simple acoustic guitar and a lovely guitar line; 10/10
8. fighting in a sack: another upbeat number, similar to 6. 8/10
9. gone for good: a wonderful country song with a very memorable chorus and cool lyrics as always. 10/10
10. those to come: the least remarkable song on the album, features only james mercer singing over a sparse acoustic. lovely nonetheless. 7/10
the only slight problem is that it is too short. it is otherwise perfect.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A grower...a truly brilliant grower!, 4 Jun 2006
This review is from: Chutes Too Narrow (Audio CD)
The hype surrounding this band is huge, and I have to admit that I didn't really understand why when I first listened to them. The music is so subtle, the melodies are so original that on first listen the sheer brilliance of this album passed me by. It was only after about a month of listening to it that I realised how deep it had worked its way into my brain. The playing is simple, yet simultaneously richly layered and textured - if that sounds like a contradiction I apologise!

For anyone who has not yet heard anything by The Shins, they could be described as folky-poppy-indie-rock, a lazy grouping of words that utterly fails to describe the sort of rich, beautiful, sparkling songs that this band makes.

Unlike on their first album (Oh, Inverted World) where the songs were drenched in an almost psychedelic wash of reverb, feedback and studio trickery, here the production is crystal clear. All the instruments are allowed their space so that the beautifully subtle playing is (I feel) more effective and powerful than on the debut. James Mercer's gorgeously nuanced vocals are particularly well served by the production, sitting right in the centre of the mix, every subtle inflection clear to the listener.

For me, standout tracks are hard to choose on an album so brilliantly constructed. Other reviewers have pointed out their favourite tracks, so I will just pick one that doesn't seem to have been mentioned yet - Mine's Not a High Horse. This track, like all the others features beautiful melodies, excellent instrumentation and unusual but wonderful lyrics. What makes it stand out for me? That solo guitar in the bridge...how can a few notes, plucked so sparringly, carry such emotional weight?!

This album is so well written, so well played, and so full of light and energy that I challenge anyone not to fall for its charms, assuming they give it the time it deserves.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shins lose the haze, up the ante, 17 Nov 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Chutes Too Narrow (Audio CD)
On the Shins' debut album, 2001's "Oh, Inverted World", singer James Mercer's voice was hidden beneath a summery haze. While the songs on that album received comparisons to those of both the Beach Boys and Simon and Garfunkel, the melodies Mercer span were suppressed only by the layers of sound which buried his voice. On "Chutes Too Narrow", the band’s second album, the haze is gone. Mercer's voice is clear and the tales he tells are as full of vivid imagery as the songs are full of hooks. The lyrics here are intelligent and heartfelt, each and every song brilliantly written. The album reaches a peak in “Gone for good”, in which Mercer sings, over a steady rhythm section and some well-placed blasts of pedal steel, “I found a fatal flaw/In the logic of love”. And then, after less than 35 minutes, it’s all over, leaving us to hope that the next album won’t be long coming - and in the meantime, to play this one again. Over and over again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top-Knotch indie-pop music, 20 May 2004
By 
The Big Man (Liverpool, Merseyside, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Chutes Too Narrow (Audio CD)
I won't give 5 star ratings cheaply but this album is worth it. Its largely excellent throughout; the best songs though are 'Kissing the Lipless' and 'Gone for Good' in particular. The tunes are beautifully melodic, the vocals pitch perfect, the songwriting in particular is of an unusually high standard; the lyrics are poetic but not too obscure in meaning; makes a welcome difference to some indie songwriters, i.e. Coldplay.
I've seen this compared to 'The Thrills' album somewhere, which is right to some extent, but this is definitely better: no whiningly annoying filler songs to flick past thank God. The only annoying thing is the very short running time of the album, just over 30 minutes of music, but the loss in length is (more or less) traded off against the high quality of the songs.
It's also just as good as 'Oh, Inverted World', if you've heard that album before, again by The Shins. Barring a small miracle, not too many people will hear of The Shins in Britain, but if you're into this sort of stuff then you will definitely like The Shins.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Magic, 5 Feb 2005
By 
Mr. S. P. Ward "Liz Ward" (Lincoln, England, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chutes Too Narrow (Audio CD)
After discovering The Shins first album in 2002, and now their follow up album, I am utterley convinced that this band has something new to offer the music world. They are a musical genius. They just seem to be taking off in the UK, keep hearing snippets of them on the radio. Buy this album, you will not regret it, then invest in Oh Inverted World, they are both awesome. What an incredible band.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rich warm album of cryptic beautiful pop, 17 Feb 2005
By 
David Unsworth (Hythe, Kent United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chutes Too Narrow (Audio CD)
The Shins' music grows on you with each listen. For me, this album took a while to grow, yet it becomes compulsive. Every song has the distilled essence of James Mercer's innocent worldview crystallised in the lyric, with his extraordinary melodies and warm singing voice embellished at every turn by tghe loveliest melodies on a variety of keyboards and guitars.
But performance aside, it's the songs themselves that make The Shins so special. These really are wonderful songs. The lyrics begin as somewhat cryptic but after a time the Mercer image library begins to make sense and the melodic and harmonic structures are a delight.
At this point, one normally encounters an "urge to buy" statement. Instead, I'd say listen to "Pink Bullets" a few times, then decide.
Once you have this album you will want the first. Then the pleasure begins to multiply, as that is an enchanting counterpoint to this rich warm album of cryptic beautiful pop.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So Says I, 25 Feb 2005
This review is from: Chutes Too Narrow (Audio CD)
Chutes too Narrow is utterly fabulous. The melodies are intricately layered on effortlessly immense chord patterns humbled with a voice that cuts through it all. And despite the heavy plaudits I apply to the music, it is in my opinion the lyrics which stand out furthest. Inventive, astute and prophetic, words are beaten into lines to deliver nurtured bubbles of the sublime.
"walking up a slide, and there are those we know who'd have us five miles off the track".
"A cold and wet November dawn, and there are no barking sparrows".
All the tracks are fab apart from the last, but in particular 'So says ' 'kissing the lipless' and the harmonica on 'Pink Bullets' are summat special.
Its a shame not many people over here know about the shins, cos they're so so so so so so so so, good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars saints in a world of sinners, 15 Dec 2004
By 
D. Salmon "domski1969" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chutes Too Narrow (Audio CD)
much could be made of this versus their debut and maybe Oh! Inverted World is more of a fave for me. but, an embarassment of riches ain't nobody's fault and its nice to hear a sophomore disc that shows musical progress and passion and confidence by a band in its material. bottom line is great tunes, great lyrics, (shows a sense of humour and melancholy can co-exist perfectly in a single song). but the bottom, BOTTOM line is you should sell your house if it's what it takes to get just one track from this fantastic LP, Saint Simon. if you ain't whistling it for the rest of the year, you really are beyond hope. alas the hopes that this will sell trillions will fall on the tone deaf ears of an X-Factor nation, but if you want some sunshine in your life, but it now. It's the herd's loss not yours!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why wait for a UK release, this is too good!, 6 Feb 2004
By 
Mr. Graham Colebeck "gcolebeck" (Bournemouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chutes Too Narrow (Audio CD)
what a gem this is, The Shins have produced a beautiful album for our pleasure (think Shame About Ray by the Lemonheads, Jellyfish's first or even Chemicrazy by That Petrol Emotion) - - just showing how wonderful music can be when people really care about it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Follow-up, 23 April 2008
By 
K. R. Donnan "Kieran Donnan" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Chutes Too Narrow (Audio CD)
This album with all its vibrant colour and form, with James Mercer's wonderful voice and moments jumping from gentle to outright hedonistic and flagrant is so very different to Oh, Inverted World. Its openness, its lyrical content, and the wild and exciting turn it takes from their debut is enough to ensure repeated listens. Intelligent, thoughtful yet youthful and carefree at the same time this album is a bundle of good things and I would urge anyone who hasn't listened to take a moment to listen. This is their most exceptional release so far (and I consider their latest release into the calculation) and at least for moments as incomparable as Gone for Good, an acoustic piece written about waiting around then moving on- for good, it is such a worthwhile visit.
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Chutes Too Narrow by The Shins (Audio CD - 2009)
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