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There’s no ‘Wincing’at The Shins’ success

Chris McGrady | Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Shins have done it again, but not at all in the same way as before. The group’s newest effort “Wincing the Night Away” is the type of speaker candy that makes the listener once again have faith in the modern music industry.

In the world of electronic Paris Hilton songs, covers of covers and “American Idol,” “Wincing the Night Away” is more than just a breath of fresh air, it is an oxygen tank for the drowning musical aficionado.

The band originally formed in 1997 in Albuquerque, New Mexico and has been making music ever since. Originally started as a side project of singer/songwriter/guitarist James Mercer, the band dominated the underground indie music scene for several years before reaching a national audience when two of their songs were featured in the 2004 movie “Garden State,” starring Zach Braff and Natalie Portman. The soundtrack for the movie received widespread praise for its originality and the overall quality of the songs, and The Shins found themselves at center stage as a bulk of the soundtrack’s success was placed squarely on the band’s shoulders. With the release of “Wincing the Night Away,” the spotlight won’t be leaving the group anytime soon.

The CD is one of those types that finds its way into your CD player and manages to stay there for weeks, even months. The album starts strong and never wavers and becomes one of those rare CDs that can be played from start to finish without the listener ever wishing to skip to the next song.

The first track, “Sleeping Lessons,” opens quietly like a dream. Just when it almost induces you into a trance, the drums come in and bring the song to life. From the start the CD appears to be great.

The next song, “Australia,” is equally appealing. The best part about The Shins’ sound is how much fun their music is to listen to. Listeners can’t help but smile when the airy, bright songs bounce along the airways just begging for you to sing along.

The band may have its best song in the song, “Turn On Me.” The track is so enjoyable that audio players’ repeat buttons may quickly become worn out. This track has the type of feel-good sound that compels the listener to sing along. Overall the sound is bright and brilliant, the lyrics witty and addictive and the instrumentation clever and clear. The song is nothing short of wonderful.

The song “Spilt Needles” follows the precedent of the rest of the album, and is in itself another great track. The Shins are lyrically on top of their game and possess some of the most unique and enjoyable sounds to come along in years. This truly is a band that is streaking its way to the top, beyond any indie success they previously had.

Overall, this album could quickly find itself on the way into the “album of the year” discussion. Several of the songs could be picks for single of the year, and The Shins sound is pleasant, fulfilling and overall impressive. When Natalie Portman references The Shins in “Garden State,” she says, “You gotta hear this one song, it’ll change your life I promise you.” Well, you have to hear this album, it’ll change your life – I promise you.