Surely You’ve Heard Of Them
The Shins delivered on the promise of scenester hype with their latest release Wincing the Night Away. A modern day Beach Boys with fecund vocal harmonies and sleek production, the Shins have carried the torch of 60s guitar pop with some of the most melodic, wistful and intricate songs Donovan could hope for.Incorporating 80s indie pop into the mix, the band who is said to change your life also conjures the band whose songs are said to save your life, the Smiths. No song illustrates this better than fabulous single â€šÃ„ÃºAustraliaâ€šÃ„Ã¹ with its rockabilly guitar solo and familiar jangle. Lead singer James Mercer has also continued the ethic of introspective and witty vernacular in his lyrics. The lyrics are never too precious but always whimsical, often cryptic with a slight touch of blue such as, â€šÃ„ÃºDare to be one of us, girl/Facing the Andrum’s conundrum/Ah, I feel like I should just cry/But nothing happens every time I take one on the chin.â€šÃ„Ã¹
A great deal of attention has been paid to the musical arrangements, each loop and coda precisely selected and as a result, songs build in imaginative ways. Opener â€šÃ„ÃºSleeping Lessonsâ€šÃ„Ã¹ erupts with bursts of sound and echo in the spirit of Phil Spectorâ€šÃ„Ã´s â€šÃ„ÃºWall of Soundâ€šÃ„Ã¹ technique. Even tracks such as â€šÃ„ÃºSea Legsâ€šÃ„Ã¹ that appear to plod along do so in an interesting manner of nonchalance and sadness. The tremolo fuzz interlude â€šÃ„ÃºPam Berryâ€šÃ„Ã¹ briefly leads way to single â€šÃ„ÃºPhantom Limb,â€šÃ„Ã¹ which infuses the tambourine thump of 60s girl groups. A catholic sense of nostalgia also includes bits of Hawaiian folk with steel and slack-key guitars, ukulele and bouzouki. The type of instrumentation of which can be heard on track â€šÃ„ÃºRed Rabbits.â€šÃ„Ã¹
â€šÃ„ÃºYou had to know I was fond of you,â€šÃ„Ã¹ to quote the Shins themselves from â€šÃ„ÃºTurn on Me,â€šÃ„Ã¹ is a sentiment the listener will surely muster. For the Shins have a charm that is appealing at equally a deft and visceral level. Fondness is almost certain.