Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Shins - Wincing the Night Away

The Shins - "Wincing the Night Away"
Grade: B

I received an advanced copy last week and decided to write a "first listen, first impression" piece.

I'll be honest. I'm a bit worried about this record. Don't get me wrong, it's going to be huge, but it has lost something special.

The record begins with a Tiki Obmar-esque trance behind distorted vocals and faint organs. "Sleeping Lessons" evolves out of this gradual crescendo to reveal an even better James Mercer than ever. Furthermore, the album is of dramatically higher fidelity and is superbly produced. But, in the end, this may be the record's greatest weakness.

Mercer still specializes in his Brian Wilson meets Morrissey stylings both in melody and songwriting. "Phantom Limbs" is still the clear single and the best song off the record. Throughout the record, Mercer weasles in a seafaring theme that is rather charming and discusses the likes of tides, waves and finding sea legs.

However, Wincing marks the abandonment of the Byrds-y twang that we've seen in passed records, and embraces a cleaner, more polished sound that loses a bit of the energy I was hoping for.

"Sea Legs" may be the weakest track as it starts out so funkaliciously that I half-expected Avril Lavigne to begin singing while heavy strings back up somewhat over-the-top distorted guitars.

"Turn On Me" picks it up a bit and conjured the thought, "Finally, a classic Shins track."

In the end, there is nothing startling about the record. It simply doesn't freak me out (like Oh and Chutes did).

For now, Wincing is getting light to medium spins on my record player. I am hoping to grow to love it, but I have some doubts.

Oh, and I'll post an mp3 asap.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So true.

2:39 PM  

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