Wincing The Night Away
Oh, the burden of expectation. Indie darlings The Shins follow up (in their own sweet time, they made sure everyone knows...) Oh Inverted World and Chutes Too Narrow with a clever, arch, and ever so slightly soul-less disc.
The highlights of Wincing are a match for anything on the first two albums, but there are more 'skip' tracks. As far as intelligent, spikey indie goes, The Shins have a lot of space to themselves. However, their challenge is laid bare here - when they do what they've done before, they still sound great (and like only The Shins), but when they do something different, it doesn't quite work - Pam Berry, Sleeping Lessons. However, and to illustrate the quandary in fully recommending this album, Phantom Limb is as great a track as they have ever come close to, and songs like Spilt Needles and Sea Legs are simply excellent. If you have not tried the Shins before, you should. Your left-leaning music library is incomplete without one Shins disc. Wincing is at least as good a place to start as Chutes, which must make it pretty special after all.