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The Shins: Wincing the Night Away

The Shins: Wincing the Night Away

Label:Sub Pop
Release Date:2007
Genre:Indie Rock

By Neil Ferguson | Posted 2/7/2007

These days, thanks largely to that infamous Garden State inclusion, the Shins are no longer the province of the cognoscenti; the members of the unprepossessing Portland, Ore., quartet have been cast as the poster boys of American indie pop, with commercial and artistic expectations running high for the release of their third album, Wincing the Night Away. It would be wonderful to report, then, that Wincing is a reaffirmation of all that's great and good about the Shins' bittersweet psych pop, but the album is one drawn-out deflation of expectations.

It starts strongly enough: "Sleeping Lessons" has an intro to die for--something that the band excels at--a star-burst of melodic loveliness. But it's over all too quickly, the album rapidly descends into Shins-by-numbers. Only two other tracks truly stand out--the indie-pop classicism of "Phantom Limb" and gorgeous closer "A Comet Appears," a natural successor to the first album's "New Slang," with an air of haunted melancholy making it an instant heartbreak classic for bed-sit romantics the world over. Nothing else sticks in the brain or grabs the heart. The record is immaculately played and produced and the band's grasp of harmony remains as strong as ever, but ultimately Wincing wafts by, polished and burnished to the point of nothingness. True believers are in for a letdown, and to the unconverted it's going to induce one big collective shrug. The Shins are capable of producing bewitching pop without breaking a sweat, but Wincing sounds, more than anything, like a band treading water.

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