Customer Review

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Won't cause wincing, 21 Feb. 2007
This review is from: Wincing The Night Away (Audio CD)
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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