Narrow Chutes Yield Good Tunes
CAUTIONARY NOTE: Exposure to this album will cause involuntary toe tapping and head nodding. That right folks, The Shinsâ€šÃ„Ã´ sophomore album, Chutes Too Narrow, will get you moving. The first track, â€šÃ„ÃºKissing the Lipless,â€šÃ„Ã¹ opens with James Mercerâ€šÃ„Ã´s soft vocals over sleepy guitars, but then it explodes into a rockinâ€šÃ„Ã´ good time that will make you want to dust off you dancing shoes and strap â€šÃ„Ã²em on for the remainder of the album. Though the latter half lets up slightly, any loss of quality can only be measured against the exceptional nature of the first half.Perhaps itâ€šÃ„Ã´s Mercerâ€šÃ„Ã´s voice, reminiscent of a younger Doug Martsch (Built to Spill), or maybe Martin Lesleyâ€šÃ„Ã´s playful keyboards. Whatever it is, every song of Chutes is sprinkled with that infectious substance that clings to your vocal chords so that youâ€šÃ„Ã´re singing them for days. However, thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s not to say that the album is simply a collection of empty, catchy tunes. Chutes is an introspective endeavor with songs like â€šÃ„ÃºYoung Pilgrimsâ€šÃ„Ã¹ exploring religion and existential angst.
On their follow-up to Oh, Inverted World, The Shins have become genre-hoppers at time, creating an eclectic, but unmistakably Shins album. â€šÃ„ÃºTurn a Squareâ€šÃ„Ã¹ plays like a sixties rock song, and then thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s the rockabilly guitar twang of â€šÃ„ÃºGone for Good.â€šÃ„Ã¹ However, with Mercerâ€šÃ„Ã´s signature vocals, it is undeniably The Shins.
Chutes Too Narrow is a great ride â€šÃ„Ã¬ one to be ridden again and again. Unless youâ€šÃ„Ã´re a surly curmudgeon, youâ€šÃ„Ã´ll dig it. And even if you are a surly curmudgeon, things are now looking up.