Record Label: Sub Pop
The Shins’ third album, Wincing the Night Away, finally makes its debut on the much-lauded cassette format. Wincing the Night Away was released in 2007 on vinyl, compact disc, and internet mp3 formats, and has since sold a whopping 692,000.
What did we say of Wincing the Night Away back in 2007, you ask? Here ‘tis: To play music for a long time, you have to surprise the people that love you—while also surprising yourself. Recorded in singer/guitarist James Mercer’s basement studio, Phil Ek’s Seattle digs, and in Oregon City with veteran producer Joe Chiccarelli (Beck, U2), Wincing the Night Away is The Shins’ third full-length album. It’s also the sound of a band growing up and out. Mercer’s infectious, indelible melodic style is still at the core, and unfaltering.
But anything can happen around it—and in this case, it does. While the vocals channel the spirit of Morrissey, “Sea Legs” pairs a loping hip-hop beat with lush melody and searing guitars. Elsewhere the band toys with tweaked-out, liquid piano steeped in kaleidoscopic strings (“Red Rabbit”); fractured synth samples (“Spilt Needles”); gauzy, arpeggiated keyboards cloaking thunderous anthems (“Sleeping Lessons”); and, taking cues from early Jesus and Mary Chain albums, sweeping, fuzz-toned epics (“Phantom Limb”). Finally, “Turn on Me,” “Girl Sailor” and “Australia” are the lilting, thrilling, rollicking, rock-solid pop songs we’ve all come to covet from The Shins. Consider yourself surprised.