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Babbling About The Shins

Score one for the nerds. The Shins’ latest, Wincing The Night Away, has debuted on the Billboard album charts at #2, becoming by far the highest charting album in Sub Pop Records‘ history. Pitchfork elaborates: “Only pretty-boy rap&b foursome Pretty Ricky bested the Shins last week, selling 132,000 copies of their new album Late Night Special. But we’re fairly sure Natalie Portman doesn’t give two shits about them.”

Natalie Portman endorsement or no, a few listens to Wincing has convinced me that these New Mexicans might be the closest thing we have to a Beatles. Not in terms of uniform brilliance, mind you, but I can’t think of another current band (and a band they are, thankfully lacking in a flashy frontperson) so adept in eclectic and engaging pop music that works on so many levels. This is never more evident than on the chiming and melodic “Australia”. A friend described this irresistible cut as “Smiths-like”, and I’d have to agree. “Pam Berry”, a spacey throwaway, gives way to “Phantom Limb,” the album’s shimmering, gorgeous highlight. If you haven’t downloaded the single at Sub Pop’s Shins page, do so now (go ahead, I’ll wait). With a song that magnificent, the rest of the album can’t help but be something of a letdown. Indeed a stretch of samey, navel-gazing songs characterize the album’s middle — but even then we have a few gems (“Red Rabbits”). By the time the album winds up, you end up feeling as if in the presence of a band that’s maturing and channeling their indie obtusiveness into a more coherent (but no less delightful) vision. Can’t wait to see what they do next.

Oh, in case you’d like to buy Wincing The Night Away at Amazon, here you are.

One Thought on “Babbling About The Shins

  1. Good stuff. I’m patiently working my way through this album. Pretty shocking sales, though. Good for them. Major label next?

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