The Shins – Port of Morrow [Buy Here]
Release Date: March 20, 2012
Conversations attempting to define ‘indie’ as a genre label are as inevitable as they are pointless, but the one band most frequently named as typifying the genre has to be The Shins. Their prominent place on the wildly popular soundtrack to ‘Garden State’ ensured that the band is ubiquitous enough to be commonly known (and loved), and the strength of James Mercer’s song-writing and slightly off-kilter pop constructions makes the band appealing to fans of disparate niches. It’s no wonder then that a release from a band verging on commercial breakthrough from the underground (a la The Black Keys or Vampire Weekend) is highly anticipated. Add to the fact that this is the first proper release from The Shins since 2007, and it is safe to say that fans were eager for the return.
In the intervening years between today and 2007’s excellent ‘Wincing the Night Away’, Mercer teamed up with Danger Mouse on their critically-tepid but commercially-successful Broken Bells side project, and the remainder of The Shins’ lineup has been shuffled somewhat. Mercer has always resided alone at the core of the band, but on ‘Port of Morrow’ he stands as the lone remainder of the group that debuted with 2001’s jangly ‘Oh, Inverted World’. Some change is thus to be expected on ‘Port’, as Mercer goes it alone on much of the writing and absorbs some of the R&B influences at the core of Broken Bells. The result is a bit of a mixed bag.