Five of the best: The Shins

I came to The Shins late (ferociously, unfashionably late), picking up their most recent album, Port of Morrow (2012), long after I should have. Given that I’d mostly ignored previous recommendations, “Oh, you’ll like this band,” it’s a little odd to be writing an article that says, “Oh, you’ll like this band.”

But you will.

We all live busy lives, we don’t always have time to listen to whole albums, so here are my five picks, as a little taster, of golden, Shinny goodness. I’ve even embedded videos (hopefully), you needn’t even navigate from this page. Well, that’s the hope.

 1) New Slang

“Oh The Shins”, you’ll say, “I know The Shins.” And yes, you’ll probably have heard this track. I know I should be alternative, and look beyond the obvious, but this is a great song. And if you’ve not heard them, here’s your way in: lyrically perfect, sweet and simple. Also, I hadn’t seen the video. It’s good.

 2) Simple Song

Speaking of simple, here’s their first single from Port of Morrow. It’s not my favourite track on the album, but it’s a winner. It takes the sort of boldness I just don’t have to sack half your band and recruit new members, but you can’t really knock James Mercer’s decision after listening to this track. New drummer Joe Plummer’s (Modest Mouse) work is faultless, perfectly punctuating the song.

3) Baby Boomerang

Yes, it’s a cover, and I suppose it’s not technically a song by The Shins, but it’s a great cover.

4) Sleeping Lessons

The first track from Wincing the Night Away. Opening with lazy synth line, the instrumentation builds around it to something that feels a little Strokes-esque, with Mercer’s voice shining through.

5) 40 Mark Strasse

This is my favourite song by The Shins, in fact, it’s probably one of my favourite songs ever. Beautiful lyrics given the attention they deserve in sparse, reflective verses, building to a full and textured chorus. It’s a beauty. Also, a whistled main riff. What’s not to like?

So there they are. If you don’t know The Shins, give these a listen. If you do know The Shins, feel free to disagree. I know I’ve missed some corkers off this list (Girl Inform Me, Australia, and many more), but if this works as a way in for anyone, then I’ve done my job.

Welcome to The Shins (ferociously, unfashionably late).


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