Friday, February 09, 2007

The Shins - Wincing The Night Away (2007)

The Shins newest CD Wincing The Night Away, debuted nationally at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 upon its release in January. The album is The Shins first new music since two of their songs appeared in the movie Garden State in 2004 and made them stars. After that unusual boost you would have thought the band would have struck while the iron is hot but instead leader James Mercer and company waited three years to release the band's third CD. It was worth the wait.

Paste Magazine, who featured the band on the cover of its latest issue, suggested that The Shins are really nothing more than a vehicle for Mercer's songs. He is the lead singer, composer, and guitarist but the quartet has been happily playing together since before the release of their first CD Oh, Inverted World in 2001 and they function as a well-oiled, cohesive unit. Mercer likes the idea of having a band instead of being just a singer-songwriter. I agree that the format suits him well.

What a pleasure it is to listen to Wincing The Night Away. This is some of the most melodic and joyous sounding rock to come our way in a long time. At different points on the album The Shins can sound like Keane, Brian Wilson, or Squeeze. "Pam Berry" offers us some surfer guitar." The opening to "Turn On Me" is a dead ringer for the introduction to the old 60's hit "Then He Kissed Me" by the Crystals. "Sealegs" has a heavy bass line, synth drums, and a funky beat bordering on hip hop. There are touches of 80s synth rock all over the album. There are obvious influences everywhere. The often upbeat arrangements belie the seriousness of Mercer's obscure lyrics. It's almost as if he doesn't want you to know what he's writing about. Is he burying heartache in his lyrics and the gorgeous sounding music?

Nevertheless this is a very fine set of songs. When I compile my list of the best CDs of 2007 I'm sure I won't find five better ones than Wincing The Night Away.

No comments:

Post a Comment