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The Shins - Wincing the Night Away (Cover Artwork)

The Shins

The Shins: Wincing the Night AwayWincing the Night Away (2007)
Sub Pop Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: JesseJesse
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Oh, it's been awhile. It's been years, actually, since the `60s-influenced lo-fi indie pop of Chutes Too Narrow was a novelty, a fresh breath of innovative chord progressions and simple arrangements. It's been years even since an annoying Natalie Portman told a whiny Zach Braff that "New Slang" woul.
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Oh, it's been awhile. It's been years, actually, since the `60s-influenced lo-fi indie pop of Chutes Too Narrow was a novelty, a fresh breath of innovative chord progressions and simple arrangements. It's been years even since an annoying Natalie Portman told a whiny Zach Braff that "New Slang" would change his life. So what's changed? Where have the Shins been? Where are they going with this new album? And what's new? What have they brought with them?

The short answer? Lesbians and a mad hip-hop beat.

Hold on, that didn't come out right.

But it is true.

Our favorite Portland by-way of Albuquerque boys (ha, I just ripped that line out of Rolling Stone and a bunch of other crappy magazines who all seem to use it) have taken a few years, it seems, to re-imagine their formula and recording techniques and musical arrangements. This is most apparent on opener "Sleeping Lessons," which opens with a sci-fi/underwater keyboard riff with an affected microphone fer th' singin'. And then it builds into a full sounding uptempo little ditty. "Australia" follows with moving bass lines and layers of acoustic guitars with reverbed electric lines dancing on top of it all. But essentially, both songs would have fit fine on either Chutes Too Narrow or Oh, Inverted World. The only difference is the hugeness imposed by the band's choices in production quality.

Now, I know what you're all thinking. You're all thinking, "Jesse, what about the lesbians and the hip-hop?"

Hold on, I'm getting there. After a quick fuzzy guitar and singing interlude titled "Pam Berry," we get on down and dirty with "Phantom Limb," probably the most recognizable as a Shins tune on the album with its doo-wop beat and tambourine-heavy two-and-four snare hit. Imagine some lazy strummed out electric guitar (¡ la the original version of "That Thing You Do" from the movie of the same name before that drummer dude sped it up) and a third-person tale about young lesbian lovers, and you've got yourself a hit single! And after what is probably the most predictable Shins song, we get hit in the face with "Sea Legs," featuring strings, a phat beat and flute tones just funky enough for Beck to sing about self-loathing in Spanglish. Is this a bad thing? No. Is this what we expected from the Shins? No. Do I like the song? Well...let's just say I will eventually.

They get quiet later on with songs like "Red Rabbits" and "Black Wave," satisfying the acoustic tributes to themselves, and they rev things up a bit with "Split Needles" and the could-have-been-a-Righteous-Brothers-hit "Girl Sailor" but gone is the reckless abandon that carried them through songs like "So Says I" from past albums. Instead, the songs are tight and controlled, well-thought out and extremely planned.

Sandwiched between all those songs, however, is perhaps the best song the Shins have to offer on this album, "Turn on Me," taking the best melodies of their past and mixing them with their new found appreciation for tight, stiff arrangements and mirrored little riffs that both guitars and drums and bass follow. This is a new Shins, calm and concentrated.

The album closes with "A Comet Appears," a song free from drums but not from finger-pickin' rhythms and some of the best James Mercer vocal melodies. And that's it. 11 songs, just over 40 minutes. But 11 great songs. The Shins have done a great job capturing the attention of America, but it's easy to see why. They bring a hint of nostalgia and classic songwriting with oodles of fantastic melody to a new age where indie rock bands get major billing on major labels and movie soundtracks can rocket your next release to number two on the Billboard charts. And for once, I agree with those other crappy music magazines. This is a fine, fine album.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
The Clash - London CallingWeezer - WeezerThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Gaslight Anthem - Sink or SwimAgainst Me! - Searching For A Former ClarityBrand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside MeAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitAlkaline Trio - Maybe I'll Catch FireJawbreaker - Dear YouOf Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
TheMike (February 19, 2008)

I love this album. I wish I picked it up sooner.

Anonymous (February 15, 2007)

What I love about this review is that if you were to take out the last two paragraphs, it wouldn't actually sound positive.

rkl (February 12, 2007)

i havent been able to take any of jesse's reviews seriously since the one he posted about his brother's band
nepotism never dies

Anonymous (February 12, 2007)

i agree, turn on me is a fantastic track. definitely my favorite here.
-TOBB

crackpotdemagogue (February 12, 2007)

great album, great band, great review.

clamum (February 11, 2007)

Haven't listen to this album that much but I fuckin love "Phantom Limb".

Anonymous (February 11, 2007)

It took me a few months to get into this record, but I enjoy it quite a bit.

Great review Jesse, one of my favorites in the Punknews database.

- Kirby

Anonymous (February 10, 2007)

boring boring boring. Not very good at all

greg0rb (February 10, 2007)

Guesses on what the guy says in a German-ish accent right before "Australia"? I think he's sayin: "Time to put the earphones on NOW!" I also like the really high crackly "la la la"s in that one.
-Greg

Anonymous (February 10, 2007)

i gave this a shot, like earlier releases it just didn't grab me though, and i like some poppy stuff, i mean the kung fu monkeys are like gods to me.

JerryCola (February 9, 2007)

Scott is right...

Chutes Too Narrow > this album

...I'm glad I downloaded it so I didn't waste my money on it

Really dissapointing too because I really loved Chutes Too Narrow

mfohio (February 9, 2007)

but guys, does it matter if this is the first shins cd purchased by everyone at ap.net?

I give this cd 13 stars.

Anonymous (February 9, 2007)

Wow. I saw that someone reviewed this, and I said "4 & a half stars" as I clicked on it.

I was right.

I listened to this. It's crap. Boring, run of the mill crap.

Crap that people pretend to like so they can impress that cute-but-dorky girl at work.

But overall, just crap.

Anonymous (February 9, 2007)

some dumb c*nt dont wanna eat? f*ck her.

Anonymous (February 9, 2007)

60's pop groups? What the fuck? Yeah, some of the 60's-style harmonies are still there, but not at all as prevalent as they were on the first album. The drums sound too huge now and his singing style has changed to an 80's Brit pop croon at times.

In short, dissapointing. Sounds like an 80's college rock record.

-Will

Anonymous (February 9, 2007)

I'm in my school library right now, and there's two teachers staging an intervention for an anorexic girl...they're suggesting that they make her milkshakes in school so she doesn't starve. Scary shit.
-feeeding5000

Anonymous (February 9, 2007)

Great record, not at all boring

youwinalemon (February 9, 2007)

Big ol' disappointment. The first four tracks are great. Split Needles is great. Everything else is boring.

baseball (February 9, 2007)

my initial opinion is this is not that good...certainly not bad though

Anonymous (February 9, 2007)

chutes too narrow is too sugary sweet. to me, that record was like a cold. it came on quickly, nagged for a bit, then faded away. wincing is something different. it's bigger, maybe more of a statement?

worth the wait in my opinion. but what do i know?
-TOBB

Anonymous (February 9, 2007)

so, on a semi unrelated note, was anyone on this site for the two minutes that they posted a link to the 'top punk albums you've never heard of'? The article was obviously fake, and as soon as the mighty org staff realized how stupid they would look for posting yet ANOTHER link to yet ANOTHER joke (gay bands, anyone?) they took it down faster than Scott taking down a sixer of chalupas.

Anonymous (February 9, 2007)

I like this band but I wish their guitarist had stayed in Scared of Chaka.

Anonymous (February 9, 2007)

I don't find myself enjoying this album nearly as much as I enjoyed Chutes Too Narrow. "Phantom Limb" is one of the best things they've ever wrote though.

Paul

kjb83 (February 9, 2007)

Good review, good album. Not a great album, but I defintely wasn't disappointed by it one bit. Chutes Too Narrow is still my favorite though.

I'm not sure why people are calling it boring. I think the album is fairly diverse song to song.

R3venge_Therapy (February 9, 2007)

This record is great. I don't know what there is to hate about it at all.

Anonymous (February 9, 2007)

actually agree with scott, boring. -oldpunker-

Anonymous (February 9, 2007)

"The Shins don't wear enough eyeliner for your precious magazine, Scott?"

pwned!

Jesse (February 9, 2007)

Of course, to put things in perspective - Scott doesn't think the album is that great. But then again, he had Dashboard Confessional in his top twenty and Moneen as his number one.

Result?

Reviewer and Scott have different tastes in music. While I appreciate a wonderful melodic pop band that takes just as many cues from Squeeze as they do from 60s girl groups, Scott would rather cry in his room listening to songs sung by a whiny tattooed midget about hair.

Purpose of this comment?

I just wanted to make fun of Scott.

Don't get any ideas, folks, I've actually asked the guy to get ordained so he can marry me and my fiancee. No bad blood here. Just a bad taste in music. On Scott's end.

Ha!

Anonymous (February 9, 2007)

Haven't listened to all of this cd yet, but this is one of the most easy to read reviews I have read on this site...with an interesting hook and all! Score is for the review (though I cannot attest to the content).

Archangel (February 9, 2007)

And is it just me, or does it look like Dr. Seuss designed the album cover?

Anonymous (February 9, 2007)

Score is for the average level of intelligence of the posts so far, with no bias towards their taste in music

Rastid (February 9, 2007)

10 stars for the awesome review, zero stars for the shitty band, averaged to 5

Archangel (February 9, 2007)

The Shins don't wear enough eyeliner for your precious magazine, Scott?

From what I've heard so far, this album is great. I can't wait to buy it when I get paid.

Ollywood (February 9, 2007)

I'm pretty new to the Shins. I've liked all the random songs I've heard by them before, but this is the first album I've heard. The album has great songs and mediocre songs. I think the album starts out really strong with Sleeping Lessons up through track 4 Phantom Limbs. The next two songs while not bad, just don't strike my interest, then the album while not mintaining its initial Spark picks up again. Turn on me is quite possible my favorite on the album which comes up next. The album continues well but the upbeat mood which the album opened with significantly dies in the end. Sailor Girl , another one of my favorite songs, comes on in the end which is similar in style to Turn On Me. Overall I agree with the reviewer for them most part and would give the album a 7.5 maye an 8. On the 11 song CD there are 3 songs I prefer to skip. I especially like the Bluegrass guitar and Bass on track track 2 Australia.

Im just came back from a bar dart tournament and feel like babbling.

I don't think you should question your likablity of a song and say it will grow on you. That song isn't that great and it makes you sound like you are trying to become some kind of scenester.

-Oli

colin (February 9, 2007)

blah

fattony (February 9, 2007)

This band never did anything for me, and this album didn't change my opinion.

maverick (February 9, 2007)

I didn't even bother to read this review after looking at the absurdly high score Jesse gave this. This album, while enjoyable at times, is so monotone and flat-out boring at others that I can't believe anyone would rate it so highly. The last one was pretty good; this one is a step down from that. Three stars on a good day.

-Scott

dusticles (February 9, 2007)

to the question below: the lifetime review already happened.

http://www.punknews.org/review/6031

cadavermine (February 9, 2007)

oh yeah...this sucks btw

Anonymous (February 8, 2007)

so where's the lifetime review?

cadavermine (February 8, 2007)

This is like my ex-b/f favorite band ever. I don't get it.

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