"Anybody can listen to the Shins, and everybody should."

Area hipster

I saw the Shins at Coney Island's 2002 Siren Music Festival, and I was amazed at how essentially they rocked out, for a pop band. A phalanx of four nerdish boys standing to my left sang along to every song, teary eyed. The Shins' first record Oh, Inverted World! is a delicate masterpiece of shamelessly catchy hooks, obscurant reverb, impenetrably psychedelic lyrics, keyboard driven melodies and intricate vocal harmonies, with James Mercer providing a perfect counterpart to all the sweet fuzziness with his high, sharp, and twisted voice. The Shins play blissful indiepop that is complex enough to keep the listener puzzled and fascinated through repeated listenings.

Update, December 2003: I recently listened for the first time to the Shins' second album Chutes too Narrow. This album is fantastically more ambitious than its predecessor, which is amazing considering the fact that when I listened to Oh, Inverted World! it struck me as one of the best things I had ever heard. Chutes too Narrow chooses plaintiveness over joy, milking Mercer's voice for all its humanity, presenting songs that will cut right into you, and not in an emo way, either. The lyrics, which any listener would do well do read carefully, practically approach comprehensibility, and the effect is one of exhuberant disillusionment. The album's tone might be summed up in the lyric "Most ideas turn to dust / And there are few in which we all can trust / Haven't you noticed I've been shedding all of mine?," from the song Fighting in a Sack. Meanwhile, the melodies are so gorgeous and catchy that you will find yourself in public, singing along to the mental recreation that you will carry with you everywhere. The Shins really court and spark here, shooting out pop songs that are weirdly overwhelming and incongruously deep. Chutes too Narrow was recorded it in Mercer’s basement and at Avast Studios in Seattle.

The Shins were founded in 1992 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The band consists of These four have been together for a decade, but have periodically varied their band name, their instruments, and their style. Mercer has also played in the band Somersault.

Discography: Websites:
  • http://www.artisdead.net/theshins
  • http://www.omnibusrecords.com/theshins.html
  • http://www.subpop.com/bands/shins/

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