Shins make for a good ‘Night’

Adam Griffiths

The junior effort from a band that has grown from near obscurity to relative success over the past five years is a combination of their previous two releases: Oh, Inverted World and Chutes Too Narrow. The Shins’ latest, Wincing the Night Away, is the next healthy step in the band’s musical and lyrical development. It’s thankfully less scatterbrained then their last album, but more fine-tuned and unapologetic than their debut.

Wincing the Night Away is openly angst-driven, but The Shins haven’t become another generic emo bitch fest. They don’t whine. The songs on the album post everlasting questions. Should I move on? Should I let go? Is this real? All are questions the album does a great job at introducing, but never end up being solved.

It feels as if The Shins wanted to do something completely different on this album, but whether it’s twists in melody or new plays on words, the band doesn’t go far enough. They get the point across, but they don’t take a full risk in doing so. The addition of strings and the return of Oh, Inverted World’s xylophone create necessary haze in exploring angst.

The Shins

Wincing the Night Away

Released on Sub Pop

Stater rating (out of five): ????

From beginning to end, the songs all kind of sound the same, but that’s the point with The Shins. “Phantom Limb,” the first single, is ethereal and almost Interpol-esque. “Black Wave,” an underdone ballad, shows the band is all about, “looking on the brighter side,” as sung by frontman James Mercer. “Pam Berry,” like their debut’s “Weird Divide,” is a waste of time, but necessary as the album is a musical journey that winds and weaves through the pitfalls of life.

Wincing the Night Away is the luscious mix of words and tricks The Shins have been trying to get down for years. It’s definitely a more pop sound than listeners are used to. They haven’t completely forgotten their roots – they’ve simply modified them, drawn on experience and produced a reason to fall in love with the band all over again. Mercer sums it up in “A Comet Appears.”

“Still to come / The worst part and you know it / There is a numbness / In your heart and it’s growing.”

Contact ALL correspondent Adam Griffiths at [email protected].