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The Shins


[Aural Apothecary / Columbia; 2012]

By ; February 7, 2012 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

With “Simple Song,” the first new song that we heard from The Shins’ upcoming fourth full-length, Port Of Morrow, James Mercer’s ability to write the big, immediate love-lorn pop song was on display. But, this is only half of his wheelhouse, and on “September,” we see Mercer as the balladeer, a skill he has kept out of sight since songs like “Pink Bullets” and “Young Pilgrims” appeared on 2003’s Chutes Too Narrow. Like an old friend you haven’t realized has been out of your life for nearly a decade (!), this song is a welcome re-introduction.

Some of productional texture that complicated Wincing The Night Away is heard in the background and it adds little to the number, proving that The Shins are at their best when they stick strictly to the tune at hand. But “September” is such a lovely little love song that it hardly matters. Lines like “I’ve got a good side inside me as well / And it’s that she loves in spite of everything else” crush as hard as any sentiment that Mercer has expressed on record, and the song’s inclusion of a false chorus keeps the audience off their guard when the ear worm of a refrain actually occurs. The fact that The Shins are marketing “September” more as a b-side for “Simple Song” than as an album cut (which it also is) or a second single (which it is strong enough to be) gives a lot of hope that Port Of Morrow could be an excellent return for the band. At worst, we already have two really nice new Shins songs.


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