The Shins re-enter music scene
Five years after their last LP, Portland based indie band, The Shins have finally released a new LP, titled Port of Morrow.
Now backed by a new lineup consisting of talented musicians with years of experience, including Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer, and Yuuki Matthews of Crystal Skulls, frontman James Mercer has taken the sound of The Shins in a different direction. It’s not a drastic change many would expect from an almost entirely reformed band, but an addition to the sound Mercer put out with Wincing The Night Away.
The album opens with electronic dissonance, leading into “The Rifle’s Spiral,” a standard Shins song; fast paced, catchy riffs, and echoing all throughout. It’s a bit disappointing as an opener to their first album in five years, as it’s boring and somewhat unoriginal, but it’s a calming song for those who may have believed Mercer lost his touch.
“Simple Song,” the first song released to the public before the album’s release, is happier in tone. It’s riff will incite dancing, and it’s nearly impossible to frown while listening to it. It’s a much more simpler form of “Australia,” but it’s still just as good. The song may get repetitious at times, but it can be ignored, as it may just be a clever allusion to the song’s title.
“It’s Only Life” is a somber number with an ironic composition. It’s a throwback to the old bands from the 90s such as Dismemberment Plan and Pavement, and is a good example of the influence those amazing bands could have. It’s as if Mercer took the blueprints for one of their songs and applied his own personal touches. The following song, “Bait and Switch,” follows immediately, and it has to have been done purposely, as the song could just have easily fit in as a song belonging to the ska genre that was so popular during the 90s era. It’s rhythm, lush guitars, and high pitched vocals fit perfectly.
“September,” “For a Fool,” and “40 Mark Strasse” seem like fillers for the album. They follow tracks that are high in tone and energy, and they just bring down the good vibes. “September” is slow, boring, and uninteresting, with a bland guitar and poor execution of vocals, which sound as if they are meant to resemble another artist that does them much better. “For a Fool” and “40 Mark Strasse” follow its example. Both songs just do not really fit, and seem out of place.
“No Way Down” and “Fall of 82’” pick things back up. The former is rich with vocals and instruments that sound like they’re from an 80s new wave band, but has certain elements that recall the same ska sound from “Bait and Switch”. They mesh to create quality. “Fall of 82’” is a chilled out, relaxed track that is almost able to fit in on an early Sublime album. Mercer definitely has his own style, and the song is an outstanding example of it.
The album ends with the title track, “Port of Morrow”. It’s the album’s standout track, as it sounds vastly different from the others. It recalls “Sleeping Lessons” from Wincing, but more dreamy, if that was even possible. Reverb is prominent, as is heavy bass and high treble guitars. Mercer is at his best. It’s the perfect song to end the album with, and if it’s a sign of things to come, then the future is bright for the Shins.
Their comeback is an impressive set, and enough to make listeners want more.