The Shins Port Of Morrow

The Shins – Port Of Morrow

                           The Shins — Port Of Morrow
Location: Portland, Oregon, USA
Album release: March 20th, 2012
Record Label: Sub Pop
01 The Rifle’s Spiral
02 Simple Song
03 It’s Only Life
04 Bait And Switch
05 September
06 No Way Down
07 For A Fool
08 Fall of ’82
09 40 Mark Strasse
10 Port Of Morrow
√   Limited Edition: 1/4” Reel~to~Reel Deluxe Package
√   Album on 1/4 track tape, 7 ½ IPS in a 7 ¼ x 7 ¼  numbered box
√   Also includes mp3 album download and a set of exclusive postcards featuring artwork from The Shins and Jacob Escobedo.
Review by Senior Editor Brett
≡   It’s difficult to talk about The Shins without referencing that scene in Garden State where Natalie Portman’s epileptic sunbeam of a movie character inadvertently but succinctly summarizes the unspoken code of exclusivity between post~millennial, post~Pitchfork indie rock musicians and their fans: “Here, take a listen to this; it’ll change your life.” Not your parents’ life, not your friends’ lives — just your life. With a few notable exceptions (Death Cab For Cutie, Bright Eyes, and, of course, The Shins), most independent artists are, by their very aesthetic and economic nature, incapable of having the same broad, all~encompassing appeal that mainstream acts secrete all too easily. The Shins have never had that problem. Their first two albums weren't simply in the right place at the right time (i.e. the summer of 2004) — they were rich, textured, gloriously produced works of sublime underground pop sung by a plucky little guy with a receding hairline who seemed just about as cool (and uncool) as we felt.
√   Port Of Morrow (out March 20) is The Shins’ first new album in five years and James Mercer's first with the all~new line~up. What’s changed since their last Wall Of Sound exercise, 2007’s Wincing The Night Away? Well, a few things. Unlike previously tight, focused efforts, Port Of Morrow is an album of two minds — the left half of Mercer’s brain wants to make a classic, back to basics Shins record a la Chutes Too Narrow. Old school fans will positively gush over idiosyncratic acoustic numbers like “40 Mark Strasse” and “September”, the latter of which is so breezy, there are literally crashing waves in the background. On “For A Fool”, Mercer sings about self~defeat and guilt over a glowing, cinematic chorus that crests and dives over a wispy, ghost~like backdrop. On the deceptively titled “Simple Song” he admits that “things can really get rough when you go it alone”, relying heavily on his new bandmates and their bouncy, Technicolor bursts of sonic detail.
√   The other half of Port Of Morrow is a dense, multi~layered, post~Brian Wilson expulsion of neo~psychedelia and progressive pop nuance. (Two guesses which half leaves the more lasting impression.) Opening track “The Rifle’s Spiral” takes a classic Shins style melody and buries it in layer after layer of buzzy radio feedback, thumping bass guitars, cascading keyboards and every weird, oddball analogue synth sound effect you've ever heard. There’s the whistling and glockenspiel intro of  “It’s Only Life”… the bubbling, Postal Service style synth sounds of “Bait And Switch”… hell, “40 Mark Strasse” even boasts a wailing Dark Side Of The Moon homage. All of which feels like an Applebee’s appetizer in the presence of the album’s epic, sprawling title track — a carnivalesque masterpiece of Pet Sounds proportions that sounds unlike anything The Shins have ever attempted and yet closer to what they’ve been about all along.
√   The Shins have been too consistently good over the past decade to pick an easy favorite, but Port Of Morrow might actually be their crowning achievement. While their peers have grown exponentially more alienating and divisive, The Shins keep getting bolder, brighter, and better with each new release. Forget “New Slang” — Port Of Morrow deserves to be experienced through a heavy set of headphones, staring deeply into the eyes of a blissfully flawed, gloriously beautiful boy or girl. This is the one that’ll change your life.
SumOlogy: Good luck finding a more accomplished, better written, produced or performed pop/rock album this year. You won’t find one — The Shins’ long~overdue fourth LP is the first great album of 2012.
Also: The Line Of Best Fit: By Emma Tucker on March 14, 2012  Website:

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The Shins – Port Of Morrow (2012)