The Shins: Port of Morrow

After five years, the long-awaited and highly anticipated release of the newest Shins record is finally here. Singer James Mercer has been out and about doing other side projects like Broken Bells with Danger Mouse and doing his own thing and even though five years doesn’t seem like much, a lot can change.

Disclaimer: I wouldn’t really consider myself to be a big authority on The Shins and so I hope no one reading this takes it the wrong way or thinks I’m just making up words.

First off, I thought this was a really good and exciting record. It’s exciting just to know we have a new record The Shins and that fact that it’s a really good record is even better. Right off the bat though, I noticed it was much more electronic than their earlier albums and it really focuses a lot of those ambient soundscapes and those bells and whistles to add texture to the album. The song “Bait and Switch” to me, seems to be like the song thats most like the old shins and the song that brings the slightly new electronic style home to create a perfect combination.

For me, The Shins are a band that I kinda need to listen to a couple of times before I can really see the picture that the band is trying to create. For this album though, I found this one to be the most immediate album from the band. The album hooks the listener immediately and holds on to them throughout the entire record.

However, on the other end of the spectrum, one could argue that this “new direction” isn’t really the best direction. James Mercer kinda sacked the rest of the band and decided to team up with multi-instrumentalist/producer Greg Kurstin. It’s not a bad combination, but some might argue that the void created by the lack of a true band isn’t filled by Kurtsin properly and that you can’t really top Chutes Too Narrow. To an extent, I would argue that both sides are right. This new direction for The Shins is exciting, but it leaves a lot of questions unanswered for the future. We’ll just have to sit back and enjoy what we’ve got until then.

Luke Helker

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