11 Songs, 33 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The 2001 debut from the Shins caught many by surprise with its weightless, lissome pop, and it was dismissed by some as a fluffy, but pleasant, nod to the Beach Boys. But, oh, they were wrong, and by the time actor Zach Braff directed his debut film, Garden State, in 2004 using two Inverted World tracks alongside tunes by Simon and Garfunkel, Nick Drake, and Iron and Wine, the naysayers had yelped “uncle.” It was clear the band had stumbled on a masterful process of music-making, cloaking folk-pop arrangements in a gauzy blanket of melancholy, using simple musical accents like a sublimely simple guitar note or an unhurried tambourine — surrounded by plenty of space — to keep it all buoyant and airborne. While the record opens with the stately “Caring is Creepy,” its muted organ strains and steady drum rolls lending the rising curtain a certain majestic weight, many of the remaining tracks are willowy and ephemeral; you fear some songs will dissolve into a vapor, never to be heard again (in particular the haunting “Your Algebra,” the lulling “Weird Divide” and the winsome “Past and Pending,” with its mournful French horn). Others, like the ‘60s-tinged “Girl Inform Me” and “Know Your Onion,” exemplify all that is good about easy, summery pop. The band smartly sequenced “New Slang” smack in the middle of everything, making it by default the album’s centerpiece, with its effortless, breezy and somewhat mysterious essence that reveals itself a bit more with each listen. If that was the intent with the whole collection, the Shins are definitely smarter than your average group of pop musicians.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The 2001 debut from the Shins caught many by surprise with its weightless, lissome pop, and it was dismissed by some as a fluffy, but pleasant, nod to the Beach Boys. But, oh, they were wrong, and by the time actor Zach Braff directed his debut film, Garden State, in 2004 using two Inverted World tracks alongside tunes by Simon and Garfunkel, Nick Drake, and Iron and Wine, the naysayers had yelped “uncle.” It was clear the band had stumbled on a masterful process of music-making, cloaking folk-pop arrangements in a gauzy blanket of melancholy, using simple musical accents like a sublimely simple guitar note or an unhurried tambourine — surrounded by plenty of space — to keep it all buoyant and airborne. While the record opens with the stately “Caring is Creepy,” its muted organ strains and steady drum rolls lending the rising curtain a certain majestic weight, many of the remaining tracks are willowy and ephemeral; you fear some songs will dissolve into a vapor, never to be heard again (in particular the haunting “Your Algebra,” the lulling “Weird Divide” and the winsome “Past and Pending,” with its mournful French horn). Others, like the ‘60s-tinged “Girl Inform Me” and “Know Your Onion,” exemplify all that is good about easy, summery pop. The band smartly sequenced “New Slang” smack in the middle of everything, making it by default the album’s centerpiece, with its effortless, breezy and somewhat mysterious essence that reveals itself a bit more with each listen. If that was the intent with the whole collection, the Shins are definitely smarter than your average group of pop musicians.

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