The Shins – Wincing the Night Away     

      Heather Phares: “The Shins will change your life!” That kind of proclamation is loaded with expectations when it’s just one friend talking up a band to another, but it’s magnified a thousandfold when Natalie Portman says it in a hit movie. The band’s popularity was already growing steadily with each album they released, but Garden State took them to another level entirely — if anyone’s life was changed by that praise-filled cameo, it was the Shins’. The expectations and pressure that the Garden State effect brought could’ve been too much for any band, especially a delicate, wistful one like the Shins. Though they took a little while to deliver a new album, Wincing the Night Away shows that time was well spent. ….  “Black Wave” is another standout, a stark ballad with chilly layers of electronic textures surrounding James Mercer’s plaintive vocals, and “Spilt Needles” continues this dark, dreamy, synth-heavy feel. The band ventures even farther from familiar territory with “Sea Legs”‘ slinky beat and funky bassline, and with “Red Rabbits”‘ keyboards, which sound like a cross between dripping water and steel drums. These experiments never feel contrived, and never get in the way of the vulnerable heart of the Shins’ music (which beats loudest on the hopeful album closer, “A Comet Appears”). Wincing the Night Away is the sound of the Shins acknowledging where they’ve been and moving on to new territory, and while it probably won’t change your life, it probably will make it more enjoyable — and, most likely, that’s all the Shins wanted to do in the first place.

 

The Shins – Wincing the Night Away Tracklist

1. Sleeping Lessons
2. Australia
3. Pam Berry
4. Phantom Limb
5. Sea Legs
6. Red Rabbits
7. Turn on Me
8. Black Wave
9. Split Needles
10. Girl Sailor
11. A Comet Appears

The Shins - Wincing the Night Away

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