A little late on my review of the new release from The Shins, but the indie icons are back with the excellent Port Of Morrow (available now) which feels akin to a welcomed visit from a well-loved, dear old friend.
The talented James Mercer remains the only original member of The Shins, taking on all songwriting duties and masterfully leading the new incarnation of his rotating cast of band members.
The sound on the new record is leaps and bounds above the low-fi sounds the world was first introduced through Zach Braff and his 2004 film Garden State. Where Oh, Inverted World felt very much like the work of one dedicated and talented songwriter with a few instrumentalist friends, Port Of Morrow is truly a solid band effort.
Upon first listen, Port Of Morrow sounded to me almost too simple and pop-oriented, which stands in contrast from the experimentalism of Chutes Too Narrow or their Grammy-nominated Wincing The Night Away.
I must say that Mercer's lyrics remain poetic and indecipherable enough to make even Michael Stipe proud. Mercer sings "When I was just nine years old, I swear that I dreamt your face on a football field and a kiss that I kept" on the album’s lead single, Simple Song. And while maybe not as experimental as fans are accustomed to on past efforts, the music on Port of Morrow remains lush, well-produced, and polished to perfection thanks to the new band: Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse), Richard Swift, Yuuki Matthews (Crystal Skulls), and Jessica Dobson (Beck's guitarist.)
Port Of Morrow has been a long time coming for fans of The Shins, four years since their last release, which is almost an eternity in today’s music business, but the album was well worth the wait and is solid from start to finish. The Shins make a case for thoughtful and uplifting music in the age of ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ blogosphere fickleness, and that's something to be proud of.
Port Of Morrow demands repeated listens, but tracks that sounded like filler on the first and second listens are now among my favorites. These are songs to fall in love with, to grow up with, and to share with friends in need of a life-change. The Shins are back like an old, nearly forgotten friend and that’s a good thing.
-Will Fisher, The Showbiz Kids
The Showbiz Kids Rating 9.5 out of possible 10