The Shins - Wincing The Night Away

A few months ago I wrote about the new Shins album, Wincing The Night Away, when it leaked onto the internet. Within hours I was asked to remove it. It went like this…

Leaks will always be an iffy issue. Then again, nearly everything I post on this site could in someway be considered illegal so what’s the difference! As usual, if you represent the band and want this gone, it takes only one kind word and it will be done. But also as usual, I only do this with the hope that it will in some way help the band. When I found out that this album, not due for release till January 23 (next year!), was available, I just had to check it out. The verdict you ask? Great. For those who don’t know, The Shins are one of this decade’s greatest bands (in my humble opinion). Their first record (Oh, Inverted World) was highly enjoyable and their follow up (Chutes Too Narrow) can be considered as nothing less than a pop masterpiece. It is a credit to James Mercer’s song writing ability that he has managed to produce yet another incredible record. That said, in these early stages (only 8 or so listens through), it doesn’t sound quite as good as Chutes Too Narrow. Listened to in isolation, this is plain and simply beautiful music. Compared to what we know they’re capable of, it lacks a certain brilliance. But to me this isn’t a disappointment. It is still great music, great SHINS music. It contains a familiar Shins sound, with haunting slow pieces, crazy exciting numbers, plenty of acoustic guitar and the usual plethora of quirky sounds. But they also incorporate a number of interesting new elements, that all fit in quite nicely. A couple of songs feel like they’re being played underwater, or at least recorded in a small bathroom, but either way it sounds really cool. Also there’s a song that sounds profoundly influenced by The Smiths and my personal favourite, a song named Australia! When this album does eventually get released, I beg you to buy it. Not to ease my guilty conscience but because it is absolutely terrific.

Australia – Not only is this song named after the best country, but it could very well be the best on the album. It is such a happy and uplifting song that only The Shins could create.

Phantom Limb – This is another quite interesting track. The vocals here are incredible. It all sounds familiar yet somehow he pushes his wonderful voice in all sorts of fantastic new directions

Well the day of official release has all but arrived and I must say my rushed account above remains fairly accurate. It’s still an incredible album, even if it may fall short of Chutes Too Narrow. Australia and Phantom Limb are still two of my favourite songs, though Phantom Limb is now a clear winner and Australia has drawn level with a couple of others. However one thing I wrote stands out as blatantly wrong and that’s my claim to be acting in the interest of the band. That is simply a lie. The only reason I had for writing about the album when it leaked was my own personal gain. The satisfaction of being one of the first and lure of extra exposure are dangerous vices and sadly I fell victim. Let’s hope I can maintain a clear head from now on and ensure that I actually am doing the best for these bands that I love so much. This album is one of the best of 200...7 and if you enjoy these two songs, don’t hesitate about picking it up.

4 comments:

Dinah said...

Thanks. I will definitely be picking up a copy.

Peter said...

That's good to hear. You'll really enjoy it!

Frank Sinatra said...

good re evaluation of australia. phatom limb is also in my mind possible winner of the tracks.

my feelings are warping as to its comparibility alongside chutes to narrow.. its gradually surpassing its predecesser... it has surpassed.

a great album. surely with longevity...

we can only hope that australia will be treated to some shins goodness in the nearest future possible.

Steph said...

I love this album. I hope they come to Oz again this year. The place would go crazy for "Australia".