The JangleBox

Indie, Noise, Shoegaze… Music

The Shins: Port of Morrow (2012)

Cuando comienzas a escuchar el último disco de The Shins, este Port of Morrow, que se abre con Rifle´s bible, parece claro que nos vamos a reencontrar con ese viejo amigo al que hace tiempo que no vemos, al que le queremos preguntar muchas cuestiones y esperar que nos epate con nuevas vivencias. Pero a medida que el disco avanza, una sensación de cierto desánimo se apodera de nosotros. Parece como si ese viejo amigo se hubiera hecho mucho más viejo de repente, como si esas antiguas historias compartidas ya no le interesaran. La madurez asomada en este nuevo disco de la banda de James Mercer nos deja esa sensación amarga. Una evolución demasiado forzada, en forma de medios tiempos e incluso baladas, por qué no decirlo, bastante sosas. Un sonido muy edulcorado con demasiados trucos de producción, teclados que no vienen a cuento y una limpieza exhaustiva de cualquier tipo de arista. Un disco muy de estudio, demasiado trabajado. La antigua espontaneidad de la banda (recordemos que se trata del primer disco de The Shins en el que Mercer no se ha hecho acompañar de ningún miembro original)  ha desaparecido sin dejar ningún rastro. Su habilidad y cierta complejidad lírica sigue estando ahí, pero el envoltorio ha cambiado considerablemente. Si me preguntáis qué me parece este disco está claro que mi juicio es que se trata de un trabajo muy flojo, con un par de momentos brillantes (Rifle´s bible, Simple song, Bait and switch) que se me antojan demasiado poco bagaje para una banda del talento de The Shins, esos antiguos compañeros inseparables de la primera mitad de la década.

The Shins – Port of Morrow (2012)

“Arriving five years after Wincing the Night Away, Port of Morrow was the first Shins album to appear on James Mercer’s Aural Apothecary imprint (also home to Broken Bells, his collaboration with Danger Mouse) and the first without the rest of the band that appeared on the remainder of their discography. Instead, Mercer assembled a revolving cast of supporting performers that included Modest Mouse’s Joe Plummer, Crystal Skulls’ Yuuki Matthews, drummer-at-large Janet Weiss, and producer Greg Kurstin, who gives the album a big, radio-friendly sound. There’s no pretense of democracy nor of being “indie” here, things that might be easier to decry if these weren’t some of Mercer’s best songs since Chutes Too Narrow. Though there’s no core band, Port of Morrow feels more focused than Wincing the Night Away even as Mercer departs from the Shins’ classic sound. “The Rifle’s Spiral” begins the album with keyboards that bounce and bubble everywhere, suggesting some of Broken Bells’ influence has rubbed off, but the contrast between sweet vocals and barbed words (“you were always to be a dagger floating straight to their heart”) that has been a key element since Oh, Inverted World is present and accounted for. Later, “Simple Song” feels downright triumphant, with big, airy bridges, a surprising minor-key chord change, and frantic guitar solos all coated in pop gloss. Mercer goes farther afield as Port of Morrow progresses, flirting with ’70s soft rock on “For a Fool,” while the title track is equal parts trippy and torchy, pairing a slinky falsetto with some of the album’s most arresting imagery (“there are flowers in the garbage and a skull under your curls”). Consciously or not, Mercer channels classic singer/songwriters and members of famed bands gone solo on some of Port of Morrow’s highlights: “Fall of ’82” is as wordy, bouncy, and catchy as Billy Joel at his peak, while “It’s Only Life”‘s charming melody and message to take it easy make it the distant cousin of John Lennon’s “Watching the Wheels.” Enough of the album finds Mercer expanding and experimenting that when “Bait and Switch,” which sounds like a lost Oh, Inverted World track transplanted to much fancier digs, or the Chutes Too Narrow-like rumination “September” pops up, it’s almost startling. These are some of Mercer’s most wide-ranging songs with any of his projects, to the point where it might be a little disingenuous to call this a Shins album, and slightly disappointing for any fans who had invested in them being a band rather than a James Mercer vehicle. Questions of semantics and authenticity aside, Port of Morrow’s songs are compelling enough to keep most fans listening and enjoying” (

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11 abril, 2012 Posted by | The Shins | Deja un comentario

The Shins: Goodbye girl (2010)


Y seguimos con regalitos desde The JangleBox. En esta ocasión, el líder de The Shins (que se están tomando con calma su regreso) nos obsequia con una cover de Squeeze: Goodbye girl, del álbum Cool for Cats (1978). La ocasión es el Levi’s Pioneer Sessions, y en el vídeo que acompañamos nos explica como su devoción por Squeeze parte de la época en que James Mercer residió en Londres.

The Shins – Goodbye girl (2010)

“Last week we mentioned Dirty Projectors’s Dylan cover as part of the Levi’s Pioneer Sessions. The Shins’s James Mercer stopped by Levi’s to produce this cover of Squeeze’s “Goodbye Girl” (from their 1978 album Cool For Cats). Or, you can grab it at Levi’s (it’ll cost you your name, email, etc.). Mercer’s reasons for covering the track are professional (Squeeze are great songwriters) and personal, too: In the video below, he recalls discovering the band while living in England. Squeeze’s founding duo Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook announced earlier this year that they would spend the summer writing music for a new Squeeze album, as well as touring the US and the UK. They’ll play the Isle of Wight festival this weekend” (

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20 julio, 2010 Posted by | The Shins | Deja un comentario


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