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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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The mysteriously titled "Oh, Inverted World" is an excitingly unique album. Released in a time when artists are shamelessly making their influences almost as obvious as the inevitably comparisons that their work will draw, The Shins' latest offering presents a musical paradox and a refreshing change. Both timeless and modern, "Oh, Inverted World" has a familiar sound while drawing no obvious parallels with any other album. At times The Shins sound like a band from the 60's, with occasional and subtle contempoary connections. Every track is melodic and unique and, although apparently unexciting on first listen, "Oh, Inverted World" is hypnotic and soon begins to invade the listeners consciousness. The simple guitar melodies and softly sung vocals complement each other perfectly, contributing to a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding album.
Stand-out tracks are the catchy opener "Caring Is Creepy" with its lyrically excellent chorus, dark and intimidating "Your Algebra" and the highlight of the album, the fantastic "New Slang", with its relaxed lazy summer evening feel. The video for "New Slang" also features on the CD. Don't be put off with the pop label, this is an intelligent album perfect for relieving the tedium of the latest crazes for stripped down 70's rock, Brit-band indie and American pop-punk.
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on 28 November 2003
I don't want to hype this band too much but I wish they'd tour England! Having said that, would their live presence spoil my image of them lazing around on a sunny afternoon smoking, sipping cups of tea and reading from picture books and listening to various pet sounds. Yes, it's true that there are some obvious influences on this album: the Beach Boys is the most obvious, but there are very definite shades of The Kinks, Simon & Garfunkel, Pavement, REM and Blur. Many have said the standout track is "New Slang" and I'd have to agree - it's beautiful in every way. "Know your onion!", "Caring is creepy" and "Pressed in a book" all jump out at the listener too, but this is very much an album to listen to as a whole and just unwind too. The indie kids shouldn't be expecting to bounce around their Kinesis and Hundred Reasons CD-strewn bedrooms to "Oh, Inverted World", but those appreciating a simple melody, and the vocals of a guy, James Mercer, who you are left convinced wouldn't say boo to a goose, would truly adore this masterpiece. I bought this CD on the strength of purely stumbling across The Shins on the internet and reading some very favourable reviews. I've heard the new album is even better. Guess what my next purchase will be?
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on 20 August 2003
What is there to be said about this album? Well, a heck of a lot really, but rather than go into great detail about its many fine points, I'll leave you to discover them for yourselves. Let me just say that this album is perfect summer easy-listening, a record full of breezy, melodic and occasionally haunting tunes. Lead singer James Mercer's soft voice is easy on the ears as are the poetic lyrics which he writes. There are literally no weak tracks - with the exception of spooky interlude "your algebra" which isn't really a song anyway. Standouts include the excellent opener "Caring is creepy" and the beautiful accoustic strum of "New Slang". It is easy to see how the vocal harmonies could draw comparisons to the Beach Boys or Simon and Garfunkel and while the Shins are unlikely to achieve the same level of recognition, they will remain one of modern music's best kept secrets.
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on 10 August 2005
The Shins are an innovative band, blending traditional indie rythms with an experimental use of reverberated and distorted melodies and stretched vocals. The prequel to 'Chutes too Narrow', 'Oh,Inverted World' is full of echoed chants, drifting melodies and lazy-afternoon lyrics. If you're looking for sing-along anthems then this is perhaps not the album for you (try 'Chutes too Narrow') but 'Oh, Inverted World' is the perfect Sunday soundtrack.
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on 25 October 2003
For all that Shins frontman James Mercer talks about the band's love affair with 'pop music', the Shins' full-length debut is anything but a stroll down pop music's well-trodden alleyways. 'On Inverted World' is as apt an album title as any - this is pop, but 1960's guitar pop put through a strange filter and turned inside-out.
From opener "Caring Is Creepy" that comes on like early Cure or Echo and the Bunnymen, it's a tour through the strange and psychedelic worlds of pop music. 'Weird Divide' is the Beach Boys on a bad trip, 'New Slang' owes as much to the spaghetti western maestro Morricone as it does to 1960's guitar pop, while 'Pressed In A Book' recalls Pavement at their experimental best. Album closer 'Past and Pending' is heartbreaking, a wonderful chord progression lamenting the end of summer and another winter sprawling out ahead.
It'd get five stars, but 32 minutes of music for a full-price album is a bit of a gyp. However if it's all about quality and you're not bothered about the quantity, go right ahead and get hold of this. A few listens and you'll have a new best friend.
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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 21 November 2005
2001's 'Oh, Inverted World' remains one of the great albums released thus far in the zeroes - a classic I'd rate alongside such albums as 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot','Mass Romantic','snow borne sorrow','69 Love Songs','Carbon Glacier','Turn on the Bright Lights'& 'Lift Yr Skinny Fists...'
It was on some Sub Pop samplers I became aware of The Shins - the wonderful 'New Slang (When You Notice the Stripes' sounding like a more sophisticated Elliott Smith. The Shins album fitting into a similar spectrum to acts like Apples In Stereo,The Kingsbury Manx and The New Pornographers. There's a sense of pop here, alongside elements of folk and psychedelia - any fans of more recent bands like The Arcade Fire and The Decemberists should find much here to adore!
It's all wonderful, having that melancholic autumn feel to things - songs like 'Girl Inform Me' and the Blur-meets-Van Dyke Parks of 'The Weird Divide' are ideal songs to fall in or out of love to. As the sticker on a more recent reissue notes, two songs here the aforementioned 'New Slang' and opener 'Caring is Creepy' featured in the indie-movie 'Garden State'- though whether this is a good thing or not depends if you thought it was minor-pseudo indie fare which irritated profoundly, having the depth of an episode of 'The OC'!
I love this album, though it's not that long; the follow-up 'Chutes Too Narrow' was fine too, though as some reviews have noted - the weight of expectation and claims of greatness for this debut dilute its effect. The oddest track here remains 'Your Algebra', which reminds me a little of Pink Floyd's 'Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast' and a lot of Dead Can Dance's 'Severance' for some reason! Closing joy 'The Past and Pending' remains the highlight, gorgeous melancholic folk-inflected rock that veers off into psychedelic territory with some gorgeous french horn...A 21st Century masterpiece and an album no one should be without anyway!
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on 28 February 2007
The Shins make great pop music. All of the songs on this album have a bright, catchy appeal. They are laid back but refreshingly original. My particular stand-out tracks are Caring is Creepy, Know Yr Onion!, New Slang, Girl on the Wing and Pressed in a Book. The only one I skip is the befuddling Your Algebra.

As well as the quality music, James Mercer's lyrics are a delight in themselves. Lines like 'a luscious mix of words and tricks' or 'no icicles stuck in my hide' show what an inventive lyricist he is. A pity you cannot always discern the words in the songs, but the CD jacket has them printed.

Chutes Too Narrow is the more accessable album so you may want to start your Shins experience there, but this is still amazing and well worth your money.
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on 16 November 2002
I was first aware of The Shins when Caring Is Creepy featured on a playlist on the Poptones website. More recently Girl Inform Me and the album were endorsed by Brendan Benson so I thought i'd give the album a try. I had thought The Shins would be part of the Strokes/Vines/Von Bondies bandwagon - how wrong can you be!
Although the album is retro it avoids the obvious reference points, so much so that it is redolent of, but never similar to or the same as, and this is a pretty astonishing feat in itself. It reminds me of early Pink Floyd, early REM, and more recently Super Furry Animals, but that's just a lazy attempt to get a handle on it. You could spend a long time trying to pin it down!
It's quite melancholy or at least wistful in places, which is a winner with me, and for an American band The Shins are very English without this seeming at all studious or forced.
Spending time with this album occasioned a good deal of pleasure and excitement, and repeated listening guarantees more of the same. If you want some you know what to do!
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on 17 October 2011
Well, as a huge fans of The Shins's "Chutes too Narrow" album I was a little concerned that this might not live up to their previous heights. This might lack the instantly catchy tunes associated with "Chutes..." but it is still a really good album and worth a whirl. The Shins have a distinctive sound and this still evident in this class album. One downside: it is short, only 33 minutes... but better to have 33 minutes of great music than an hour of trash like the drosh polluting the charts. There are no weak 'filler' tracks and each one is worth a listen.

If you like The Shins, try giving The Middle East a try. Their album "I Want That You Are Always Happy" is sheer brilliance! Best described here as a more acoustic version of The Shins. I Want That You Are Always Happy
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on 26 September 2005
On hearing this for the first time I wasn't sure what the hell I was listening to!
The first thing that strikes you is the production-the whole record has such an eerie veneer-as if The Zombies had composed the soundtrack to a long forgotten horror film.
The sixties references are easy to spot,from The Kinks to the above mentioned Zombies.Then as these nuggets of psych-pop wormed their way into my brain I stopped playing spot the influence and started to enjoy this great record. For lovers of Elephant 6/ Kinks/ Zombies and the first Simian album.
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