When I was twelve I bought my very first CD. I remember the day clearly – I had made my mind up the day before that this was exactly what I wanted to spend my money on. My mother drove me to the Barnes and Nobles on Third Street and we wandered into the back of the store to where the music section was (and still is). Even though I knew exactly which CD I wanted, I still perused the racks slowly, driving my mother insane and making sure that I was giving each CD a chance to change my mind. Nothing, in fact, made me change my mind, so I grabbed what I wanted and we hit the road. This CD was Oh, Inverted World, The Shins’ first album from 2001. Here’s their hit song “New Slang” from that first album.
Since this fateful day in 2007, I have acquired many more CDs. Some I listen to more, some less, some are more important to me, some I lend out to friends, some I don’t, and some are my most treasured possessions. But only Oh, Inverted World is my first CD. Anyway, enough nostalgia.
The Shins have just released their fifth full-length album, five years after their last one, Port of Morrow. Heartworms is written completely by frontman James Mercer and is moderately experimental for The Shins, with stand-out tracks “Mildenhall” and “The Fear.” “Mildenhall” is folksy-sounding, telling the story of Mercer’s childhood relocation to England from the US. “The Fear” is the last track, which blends several different vibes, contrasting nostalgic and solemn lyrics with the more breezy melody. Ending with a fading harmonica melody, “The Fear” is a nice end to a the album. “Half a Million” has a great and catchy chorus, and “Dead Alive” sounds like something that would fit in perfectly in their third album, Wincing the Night Away (my personal favorite from their discography).
All in all, Heartworms is a low-key return to their older music while experimenting with different styles. There is the usual mix of melancholy and feel-good vibes, balanced perfectly, as always. The Shins are going on tour soon, so watch out for them in the area!
Photos from The Shins facebook page.