80's influenced intelligent pop
Having famously changed the life of Natalie Portman’s character in the film Garden State, The Shins are under a certain pressure for their third album which simply didn’t exist before their debut and sophomore efforts. The proud knot of indie purists who swore by the Brian Wilson-esque, sunshine melodies of ‘Oh, Inverted World’ and ‘Chutes Too Narrow’ will need no persuasion of the talents of songwriter James Mercer, but newcomers might. Although often bracketed in with a new breed of Americana, ‘Wincing The Night Away’ is packed with transatlantic, 80’s-styled influences, from The Cure (‘Phantom Limb’) through The Flaming Lips (‘Sea Legs’) to The Smiths (‘Turn On Me’). Mercer’s shimmering vocal style is both The Shins’ strength and their downfall: when it floats wispily over full accompaniments of drums, guitar and keys it is utterly enthralling, but can verge on flimsy in the sparser moments. Overall though, The Shins’ intelligent pop takes enough unexpected, twisting turns to continually delight.