The Shins – Wincing the Night Away (2007)

Some Shins fans like the Shins. Some like Garden State. Some like both. Wincing the Night Away, while it may disappoint the second group, ought to please just about everyone else. It’s far more mellow than the Albuquerque quartet’s previous two efforts. While lacking an infectious glow-pop number to match New Slang or Kissing the Lipless (with the possible exception of Phantom Limb), it offers a solid album full of melancholy, yet hopeful, numbers. Sea Legs channels The Verve without descending into mimicry, and several of the songs – Girl Sailor in particular – betray a bit of a Decemberists influence.

Wincing the Night Away is The Shins’ first release since 2003, and has much more in common musically with 2001’s Oh, Inverted World than 2003’s Chutes too Narrow. It’s much more musically mature than either, and a bit more adventurous – they seem to have some sort of musical attention deficit, hopping from sub-genre to sub-genre, from Enya to the Eagles to The Flaming Lips. Surprisingly, it works, creating an oeuvre that is more of a pastiche than a mere collection of derivative songs. After four years of silence, the Shins have managed to release an album that should confirm their status as solid – if not always spectacular – pop songcrafters.
–ap

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