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The Shins
FILTER Grade: 82%

By A.D. Amorosi on March 20, 2012


The Shins

Port of Morrow is transition time for The Shins. This fourth album from the jangling, arch-pop Portland-based “ensemble” is their first in five years, their first away from their longtime home at Sub Pop, their first featuring keyboardist Richard Swift (among other new members) and their first after the main Shin, vocalist-composer James Mercer, went on the spacey soul excursion of Broken Bells with producer Danger Mouse. Mercer has brought some of the open airiness and percussive clanging from Broken Bells into Port of Morrow, but not enough to tear The Shins from their slick indie-guitar tangle. There’s still the wistful lyricism and sad-eyed singing, but it’s infused with bristling electric energy (the deceptively titled “Simple Song”) as well as a new sense of scale (most apparent on the insular “September”). Mercer’s lyrics may occasionally be cryptic, but there’s no mistaking the depths of emotional intent throughout the irked elegance of “It’s Only Life.” 

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