BY ALYSSA HOLCOMB
The latest release from indie alt-rock group The Shins combines fantasy and folk overlayed with alternative flair, furthering their pension for mixing slightly space-y sounds with more grounded, rock-rooted beats.
The album was released on vocalist/guitarist James Mercer’s own record label (via Columbia Records) Aural Apothecary, alongside the addition of new members, including bassists Ron Lewis (Grand Archives) and Eric D. Johnson (Fruit Bats), and Joe Plummer (Modest Mouse) on drums.
“The Rifle’s Spiral,” a lively introduction, catapults the record into stylized musical mesh that makes The Shins’ sound so unique. Part bouncing bass lines, part brooding vocal styles, Mercer’s “compositions” are just the type of indie-rock fare audiences bound for Bonaroo will be clamoring for. Leading into the first single, “Simple Song,” the upbeat instrumentation mixed with Mercer’s high-pitched tenor, make it satisfactorily edgy and justifiably danceable.
The entire album is a crafted combination of both rock and pop, tempos and genres mashing into a equalized mix. Softer songs like “September” give an ethereal feel to the album, lyrics of angels and people “born of the sea” permeating the underlying fantasy that makes this band such indie darlings. Meanwhile, brooding tracks like “For A Fool” provides vocalization reminiscent of hippies-era bands like The Turtles, the tranquil “oohs” following the soothing guitar. Continually, the title track shows off Mercer’s higher register, transporting him into the full-fledged fantasy region that seems to permeate the underlying melodies of the entire album.
The Shins are currently on tour and will be making an appearance at this year’s Coachella Music Festival and Bonnaroo. For more information, check out www.theshins.com.