Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Shins

  • Oh, Inverted World [Sub Pop, 2001] *
  • Chutes Too Narrow [Sub Pop, 2003] A-
  • Wincing the Night Away [Sub Pop, 2007] ***
  • Port of Morrow [Aural Apothecary/Columbia, 2012] **

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Oh, Inverted World [Sub Pop, 2001]
Pretty is hard, but that doesn't make it signify ("Weird Divide," "New Slang"). *

Chutes Too Narrow [Sub Pop, 2003]
A gifted melodist with an arranger's knack for psychedelicizing simple structures and a folkie's fondness for acoustic strum, James Mercer is a pop formalist like Elephant Six's Robert Schneider and Spoon's Britt Daniel. Although he comes on oversensitive at times, he's no obscurantist and no stupe. When he references Sir Thomas More it's so you remember that utopia seemed an option back "before murder was cool." And yes, when he brings in the steel guitar he's getting ready to leave Albuquerque for Portland--and leave his girl behind. A-

Wincing the Night Away [Sub Pop, 2007]
"Faced with a dodo's conundrum"--he said it, I didn't ("Girl Sailor," "Australia"). ***

Port of Morrow [Aural Apothecary/Columbia, 2012]
Problem's less the precious lyrics he attaches to his premium melodies than the increasingly precious way he sings them ("Simple Song," "September") **

See Also