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June 28, 2004

{     The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow     }    

This is my first attempt at a review so be gentle. After reading all of the reviews on the "uber-hip" stuff that everyone is getting, I was afraid to review this album because, frankly, it's garnered alot of attention for being the "next, big thing." To be honest, that's a completely valid description of how I came into purchasing this album. It was a combination of browsing the Sub Pop website and watching a video late one night on MTV that featured Communist penguins and talk of pulling teeth from pimps of gore. "Self," I thought, "You love pulling teeth from pimps of gore so go buy this album." I clicked "Download Now" on iTunes and the rest is a history full of upbeat pop melodies and harmonies mixed with bittersweet, almost depressing, lyrics. To the uninitiated, James Mercer's vocals can conjure images of anything from the soaring howl of Perry Farrell ("Kissing The Lipless") to the quiet whisper of Sam Beam ("Pink Bullets"). The simple, layering melodies are most evident on "Saint Simon" and, my personal favorite, "Mine's Not A High Horse." Critics have dubbed this the best album of the last 10 years and, in some cases, they're right but that's going too easy on it. It's not without it's faults. It can be derivative in parts and leans a bit too heavily on "Pet Sounds" and other surf music of the Sixties. It's a bit short at 33 minutes but let me say this. Listening to this album for the first time all the way through was the best 30 minutes of my life musically for the last 5 years, at least. That's the best thing I can say about this record. You can put it on and not hear a bad song all the way through. The songs flow naturally from one to the next, changing styles all the way - the straight pop of "So Says I" to the slide guitar-country of "Gone For Good" - it's all good here. Lyrically, James Mercer goes from the surreal - "Pulling teeth from the pimps of gore when hatched a tragic opera in my mind..." So Says I - to the subtly beautiful - "But your memory is here and I'd like it to stay..." Pink Bullets - and never loses the listener at any point in between. With soaring harmonies and beautiful choruses, this is definitely a can't miss album and well worth the $9.99 I paid on iTunes.

     » The Shins at Sub Pop Records

     » Buy it...

Comments

I honestly think that one day I may just talk to my children about the Shins in the same fashion I was told about the Beach Boys when I was growing up.

Kudos Rob!

Posted by: Shane at June 28, 2004 3:50 AM

i say "to be honest" alot.

Posted by: rob at June 28, 2004 5:19 AM

I couldn't agree more with your review of this absolutely brilliant album. Sure, it's not without its flaws, but it's one of the few albums I have not completely worn myself out on even after much repeated listening.
There's something real and genuine here, and it's amazing that it's served up so "poppily". That accessibility is really important- it keeps it from being pretentious and makes for something that is just really damn listenable. It will be hard to top, and there will be alot of critical pressure on these boys to put out with their next album. Let's hope they emerge unaffected by the hype.

By the by- I've recently become drawn into the Drive By Truckers. If you haven't heard Decoration Day yet, I can't recommend it enough. It's running in my top 5 for best album of last year, just behind Chutes Too Narrow and the Grey Album.

Posted by: Adam at June 28, 2004 10:31 PM
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