I can’t say I’m very familiar of The Shins, as I really only know their more popular songs – “New Slang,” “Australia,” and “Simple Song” – and also James Mercer’s (lead singer) other project Broken Bells (“The High Road”), but I took a chance and gave their newest record a listen.
The album starts on a high note – with the very upbeat “Name For You.” I definitely see this song becoming a hit for the band. However, the following track – “Painting a Hole” is my least favorite on the record. It’s not that it is a bad song or anything, but in the context of the album, I feel it doesn’t fit properly.
“Fantasy Island” is one of my favorite songs on the album, with the lyrics exploring the idea of escaping to an imaginary island to escape from the problems of life. “Fantasy Island” flows into “Mildenhall” – a song about how Mercer decided to become a musician.
The entire album is full of catchy hooks, and I believe “Half A Million” takes the cake for the best chorus lyrically and in terms of catchiness:
There’s half a million things that I’m supposed to be / a shelter in the nighttime, a punk running free
As one who has listened to more Broken Bells songs than The Shins, I can definitely tell there has been an influence on the production of this album from Mercer’s time with Broken Bells. This may be displeasing for those fans who prefer the less-electronic side of The Shins, but for me I love it.
Key Tracks: Name For You, Fantasy Island, Mildenhall, Half A Million, Heartworms, So What Now