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37
4.5 out of 5 stars
Wincing The Night Away
Format: Audio CDChange
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 12 June 2011
A huge record collection? Stuff you haven't even played? ....and then you bung one on just to see if it's worth a listen. This has become my favorite. There's always something new you discover on every play as well as the lyrics and sing-a-long melodies you're expecting.
This is no one night stand but a real obsessive love affair.
Thanks, David.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The Shins were described in "Garden State" as a band that will change your life. Tall order, but it got people listening to this brilliant indiepop band's first two albums, and radically raised expectations for their third.

And "Wincing The Night Away" won't disappoint their fans, as they're just moving the same pop aesthetic forward. The Shins' third album sounds confident and polished, with its bizarrely appealing lyrics and a wintry pop sound.

It opens with running footsteps and a shimmering string of synth notes. "Go without 'til the need seeps in/you low animal, collect your novel petals for the stem/And glow, glow, melt and flow/eviscerate your fragile frame," James Mercer croons, sounding like a pensive ghost. Then the melody grows stronger and more intense, until it erupts into a rousing guitarpop tune.

Things get a bit cheerier with the rousing, upbeat sound of "Australia" ("So give me your hand,/And let's jump out the window!") and the fuzzy, ominous sound of a one-minute interlude. After that, the band happily bounces out onto catchy sinuous indiepop, gauzy little melodies, rousing guitar pop, ghostly folky songs, and the surprisingly soft finale "A Comet Appears."

But the highlight has to be the main single, "Phantom Limb," a glorious fuzz-guitar pop tune with surreal lyrics: "So, when they tap our mundane heads/To zombie-walk in our stead/This town seems hardly worth our time/And we'll no longer memorize or rhyme..."

The Shins may have come out with the first really brilliant album of the year, by not changing all the good things about their music. Instead, these guys just tighten up what they already had -- brilliant pop music, complex instrumentation, and really bizarre lyrics.

These tight little songs are usually little swirls of guitar and fuzzy bass, tight and catchy. They're backed with some sharp percussion, smooth strings and waves of shimmery, freezing synth; as the final touch, they throw on some tambourine, as well as a dripping sound in the airy "Red Rabbits."

Mercer's smooth vocals are excellent when he's singing straightforward pop vocals, but he also sounds brilliant when he sings echoey, ghostly songs. The lyrics are full of soulless cities, dead moons, plastic surgery, and eerie love songs ("You belong to a simpler time/I'm a victim to the impact of these words,/And this rhyme"). He sings out the bizarre lyrics as if he was born to.

The Shins are better than ever in "Wincing the Night Away," a glorious collection of brilliant pop tunes. A great way to kick off 2007's music.
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I first came across the magical Shins a few years ago with their impressive debut Oh, Inverted World. At first listen, Oh, Inverted World was a curious but intoxicating affair that combined beautiful Brian Wilson pop with dreamy and slightly inaccessible experimentation. After a few listens the pop tunes become things to be clasped close to your heart and the dreamy experiments became secret gardens to explore time and again.

The Shins have completed two albums since then, and Wincing the Night Away is more of the same, if musically even tighter than before. Again, the Shins are capable of creating upbeat yet painfully beautiful pop songs that clearly echo the Beach Boys circa Pet Sounds and Smile. Just listen to the perfectly crafted "Phantom Limb" and "Australia" among others. But the Shins also have a more elegiac, dreamy sound that sits perfectly with long hazy summer afternoons. These little coves are definitely worth exploring and give the album greater depth and listening longevity. The delicate yet eccentric "Red Rabbits" is a perfect example of this quality.

James Mercer sings and sounds like Brian Wilson, and manages to get away with it because of the aching beauty of his creations. The Shins create songs with the same unpredictability and intelligence as the Beach Boys (and others such as Prefab Sprout) yet they are not imitators. Lyrically the Shins can be obscure, but amidst the eccentricity, there is always a carefully woven melody to offset the madness. Just when the Shins are asking you to think a little, they provide you with a hook that seems to fill you with joy.

This album will make you smile and probably make you wonder what you would have done if you had never encountered a band of such bewitching quality.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2007
I had massive hopes for 'Wincing the Night Away' and was counting down the days until its release. Being a huge fan of The Shins 'Oh Inverted World' and 'Chutes Too Narrow' I saw a band that was developing in a really interesting and yet very natural way.

James Mercer had talked about the wait for 'Wincing' being worth the time because it gave them time to tweak it and make it as good as possible. The results are truly magical and I couldn't have asked for more. I am positive that this band is headed towards being one of the best in the world. In Ireland I have struggled to find other Shins fans and any friends I try to tell them about show a really uninterested attitude. Pity because they don't realise just how much they are missing.

I have been crazy about a number of bands over the last 15-20 years such as enigma, the cure, the rolling stones, etc but The Shins are absolutely the band I have spent my life searching for. They convey the exact emotions and sounds I look for in music - uplifting, magical, interesting, creative, imaginative, ethereal, and just totally addictive.

My advice to anyone who is a fan of music (regardless of whether you're familiar with The Shins or not) is buy the album - it just might change your life. You have to know their first two albums to fully appreciate the huge development in their sound and the big leaps forward they have made in this album. Keep it up Shins, you are totally amazing. Please come to Ireland so I can see you live!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 2 February 2007
This is the downer album The Shins have always promised, a delicate and beautiful end of the relationship album, but one that's more expansive than their previous releases. It reminded me a little of Beck's Sea Change, but the influence here is British 80's sounds of The Smiths, Echo and The Bunnymen or The Cure. The 60's psych influences are still there too, surf drums and shiny harmonies, but the little synthetized touches, strained strings and electronic beats help bring out the maturity of the song writing. A joy.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I first came across the magical Shins a few years ago with their impressive debut Oh, Inverted World. At first listen, Oh, Inverted World was a curious but intoxicating affair that combined beautiful Brian Wilson pop with dreamy and slightly inaccessible experimentation. After a few listens the pop tunes become things to be clasped close to your heart and the dreamy experiments became secret gardens to explore time and again.

The Shins have completed two albums since then, and Wincing the Night Away is more of the same, if musically even tighter than before. Again, the Shins are capable of creating upbeat yet painfully beautiful pop songs that clearly echo the Beach Boys circa Pet Sounds and Smile. Just listen to the perfectly crafted "Phantom Limb" and "Australia" among others. But the Shins also have a more elegiac, dreamy sound that sits perfectly with long hazy summer afternoons. These little coves are definitely worth exploring and give the album greater depth and listening longevity. The delicate yet eccentric "Red Rabbits" is a perfect example of this quality.

James Mercer sings and sounds like Brian Wilson, and manages to get away with it because of the aching beauty of his creations. The Shins create songs with the same unpredictability and intelligence as the Beach Boys (and others such as Prefab Sprout) yet they are not imitators. Lyrically the Shins can be obscure, but amidst the eccentricity, there is always a carefully woven melody to offset the madness. Just when the Shins are asking you to think a little, they provide you with a hook that seems to fill you with joy.

This album will make you smile and probably make you wonder what you would have done if you had never encountered a band of such bewitching quality.
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on 13 August 2011
Listening to the first half of this album, it's hard to get away from The Smiths comparisons. Especially on Phantom Limb which owes alot to the classic Smith track, Half a Person. This, of course, is no bad thing, and many people who were put off The Smiths by Morrissey's downbeat vocal style won't have the same problems with James Mercer's vocals.
All in all, a very good album full of great tracks, and still one which i listen to regularly today, despite owning it for a good few years. Recommended.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2007
With two great albums under their belt The Shins needed an stormer of a return and Wincing The Night Away does just that. With the ghostly mumblings of Sleeping Lessons pulsing as soon as you hit play you know your in for a treat. Although this album maybe weighed with more synths than the last two it only adds to the beautiful melodies that The Shins are masters at crafting. Instant hits on the album include the single Phanton Limb, the awesome Sea Legs & Turn On Me, the rest of the tunes slowly emerge like a flower and all you want to do is taste their pollen. The Shins have tried some new angles on their quirky intellengent peotic songs. Split Needles almost sounds like it wouldn't be out of place in an Incubus set, if only Incubus could craft it as clever as this track is. This is a awesome albums fans of the previous two albums will adore it. Where as new listeners will be enchanted and will be left hungry for more and will have to eat backwards to 'Chutes To Narrow' & 'Oh' Inverted World'. Best Track 'Turn On Me' "You had to know that I was fond of you, fond of Y O U. Beautiful.
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on 5 January 2013
I bought this album after reading some good reviews and after a few listens I only liked a couple of songs. But after a couple more listens the rest really began to shine through. I love the unusual lyrics which I am forever trying to work out and the songs are so melodic I find myself singing and dancing to them without even noticing. My favourites are Sleeping Lessons, Phantom Limb,Turn On Me and Spilt Needles.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2007 is only a week away, but does anybody have any idea about what's in store for all of us? The Shins could give us a better idea. "Wincing The Night Away" comes out in 2007, but most people have heard the leaked version of the album, but I've been lucky to hear it in all of it's stereo delight, and my oh my, it's impressive.

Lyrically, it's a pleasure from start to finish, with "Sleeping Lessons" murmuring the genius words, " Eviscerate your fragile frame/ And spill it out in the ragged floor" to the closer "A Comet Appears" joying the listener with the wonderful words, "And still to come/ The worst part and you know it/There is a numbness/In your heart and it's growing". The Shins weren't a part of my musical life one little bit last year and this year, but things are going to change in 2007, if you haven't heard their two earlier records, "Wincing The Night Away" encourages you to do so. It opens doors to more records as well as more genres. This album sounds like a work of The Beatles sometimes, and sometimes it sounds like an album produced by Timbaland, but everything in this record works. Originality is at its best in these 12 tracks, The Shins know they're being different, and they know they're doing it so, so well.

"Phantom Limb"'s basic chords gradually impress more and more after each play and you'll be humming to the outro in no time. For all it's worth, "Wincing The Night Away" could go down as one of the best records of 2007, and it's only just less than 12 months away until everybody chooses their records of the year.

"Sea Legs" mixes R&B drum beats with almost Asian vocals to produce a heart throbbing 5 minute stunner, almost the highlight of the album. Lyrics are once again a high point, "'Cause when the dead moon/Rises again/We've no time to start a protocol/To have us in."

But the song that sums this dream holiday, this beautiful human being, this incredible record, is "Australia". The second track on the album is the most feel good song of the generation, there are squelches of delight, the pre-chorus of all pre-chorus', it's like a perfect dream that doesn't make sense, but makes you smile while sleeping, glorious.

"Wincing The Night Away" is a record that will hopefully sum up everybody's year, it's the happiest, most zany, most delightful thing I've heard in years and it's dare I say it, one of the albums of 2007.
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