Release Date: 01.29.07
Record label: Transgressive
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.
The Shins - Wincing the Night Away
by: Jonathan Arber
Never mind the difficult third album, Wincing the Night Away, the Shins’ third record, finds them in the bizarre position of indie band du jour. Thanks to their “life changing” (according to Zach Braff) music being featured in Garden State, the indie rock scene’s best kept secrets have found themselves very much in the spotlight.
It’s to their credit then that Wincing the Night Away not only delivers on the huge buzz surrounding it, but goes beyond. The first big surprise here is that The Shins rock – no really, while you’re unlikely to confuse it with the new Dragonforce record, the guitars on opener Sleeping Lessons definitely kick in, rather than introduce themselves politely as on previous material. Of course, singer James Mercer still has a definite tendency to ape indie bands of England past – most noticeably on Sealegs when his opening moans push him firmly into Morrisey-land (a nice place to visit, but not somewhere you’d really want to live). The second pleasant surprise is how solid and assured it sounds. There was always an element of over-politeness about their older songs, which though undoubtedly well-crafted, sometimes failed to make much of an impression. This wasn’t helped by the fact that their last two albums sounded like they’d been (and possibly were) recorded in someone’s garage. Wincing the Nights Away benefits hugely from muscular production, which adds a shimmering haze to tracks like Phantom Limb, that might previously have erred towards the twee.
This seems likely to be the record that moves The Shins beyond the garage and pushes them towards the stadium. It’s debatable whether or not this is a good thing, but with Wincing the Night Away making waves on both sides of the Atlantic, it may soon become a reality.