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Chutes Too Narrow

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In the 2004 film Garden State, Natalie Portman’s character famously claims that listening to a track from The Shins’ debut record will “change your life.” That statement holds true for this sophomore effort from the Albuquerque, NM-based band. It’s a stellar display of ’60s-influenced indie pop wizardry spiked with sing-song melodies, jangly guitars, and labyrinthine lyrics delivered in a giddy, breathless rush. Even when you can’t make out precisely what James Mercer is saying, the sentiment behind his words lands like an arrow to the heart.

Customer Reviews

A Bubbling Cauldron of Musical Goodness

Admittedly, I knew nothing about this band. According to Sub Pop, they’ve been around for 19 years as various other bands before The Shins was officially formed in 1997. Regardless, it’s about the music, not the bio. A simple, strummed guitar figure and James Mercer's subdued vocals open the album’s first track, Kissing the Lipless. The first track alone incorporates at least three distinctly different musical styles, from folk to rock to spacey, jam-band style noodling. Various tones, textures and time signatures punctuate this little gem of musical goodness; the sound is fresh, clean and not the least bit over-produced. From the rollicking, hooky pop of Mine’s Not a High Horse and Turn a Square to the folksy strumming and wistful lyrics of Young Pilgrims, as well as the almost Syd Barrett-meets-The Kinks, oddly harmonic but truly melodic So Says I, the album swings the spectrum from rock to folk to alt-country and back, all while striving for incredible hooks, top notch melodies and quality lyrics. Saint Simon shimmers with strings, harmonies and textures that would make George Martin proud, all while sounding just left of Supergrass while doing it. It’s slightly tongue-in-cheek without the cloying stench of trying too hard. Swinging back into a bouncy, slightly retro feel that The Strokes wish they could figure out properly to match their costumes, Fighting in Sack is a brilliant mix of Brian Wilson-like harmonic vocalizations, Kinks style rock and a harmonica solo that would make Neil Young proud. For the folk-set, there’s magic in Pink Bullets and Those to Come, both of which sound so much Nick Drake and Neil Young mixed tightly together to form astoundingly beautiful, haunting elegies that don’t linger or drag in the least. Looking for a little alt-country to tide you over until the next Wilco masterpiece? Well, the tentatively titled A Call to Apathy is just what the country doc ordered, replete with steel guitar, down-home harmonies and Mercer’s perfectly apropos lyrical stylings. Chutes Too Narrow is a cauldron of differing styles and songs, but cohesive nonetheless. Held together by the bright, shining strand of melodic sense built into each track, this album is good to the last strum.

This Is an Amazing Album...

This album holds some of the most complex and beautiful melodies that one will ever hear. The tone of each track is very exclusive to itself. You wont feel like you have already heard the song, nor will you get the same vibe from each song. This is a great album to actually listen to. The words are soothing to the mind and the ears, and will leave you with something deeper to think about. I highly recomend this album to anyone who loves beautiful music.

The Shins Save Modern Music

One can not dispute the brilliance of this album. This is a band that I want everyone to hear but at the same time I don't want them to become too accessible to the masses. Each song is thoughtfully tailored and the lyrics are intelligent and original. Gone for Good is my favorite song -- although I like the version on the So Says I EP better. For those people who graduated college in the Grunge Era and is now struggling to update their music library, try downloading the following songs from their last two albums: 1. Caring is Creepy 2. New Slang 3. Pressed in a Book 4. Kissing the Lipless 5. Gone for Good


Formed: 1997 in Albuquerque, NM

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A classic guitar pop group almost nine years in the making, Albuquerque, New Mexico's the Shins began in 1997 as the side project of singer/songwriter and guitarist James Mercer's primary band, Flake. Mercer formed Flake in 1992 with drummer Jesse Sandoval, keyboardist Marty Crandall, and bassist Neal Langford; they eventually changed their name to Flake Music, releasing several singles, a well-received album, When You Land Here, It's Time to Return, and touring with friends like Modest Mouse and...
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