Flipped and Reborn
Heartworms was a critically acclaimed album by The Shins in 2017. To the delight of fans, James Mercer has reworked every song by playing with opposites. The Worm’s Heart contains alternate versions of Heartworms‘ tracks, with the original song order reversed. The album art remains the same, with only the colors changing from earth tones on Heartworms, to muted blues, pinks and lavender on The Worm’s Heart.
The album begins where Heartworms ended, with “The Fear (Flipped).” The alternate version has a more upbeat guitar riff that completely separates from the initial track’s sound. Heartworms version of “The Fear” played with different forms of percussion like the harmonica to create a slower, folk song. The flipped track relies on the anchoring acoustic guitar riff, drums and reverbed vocals for a vibe that’s more rock ‘n roll than folk. “Dead Alive (Flipped)” relies on a melancholy string and piano accompaniment, a far cry from its folk-rock original.
“Heartworms (Flipped)” takes a turn toward ’80s dance music versus the simple, acoustic original. This change is completely unexpected, but the results are fun and inviting. The reverse is true for “Cherry Hearts (Flipped).” The original could be slotted into an alternative-pop category, whereas its alternate stays in the typical Shins’ lane of indie rock. “Name For You (Flipped)” returns to an ’80s style with slowed down vocals and industrial electronics. The dreamy, sparkling synths on “Fantasy Island” have been substituted for simpler chords that compliment an easy, upbeat guitar riff and drums to create a song fit for lounging at the beach.
Mercer’s dream of opposites has been fully realized on The Worm’s Heart. Slow jams have been reimagined as upbeat grooves and vice versa. The dedication of completely reversing an acclaimed album shows vast creativity and ingenuity by Mercer, and it has certainly paid off. Fans of Heartworms are bound to love its alternative partner.