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Oh, Inverted World

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iTunes Review

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.

Customer Reviews

Great Debut Album.

Except it's not really a debut. Previously called Flake Music, the Shins released another another album, but I need to try not to get sidetracked. This is their recognized debut album, and it's a good one, aside from the few typical experimental filler tracks you find in many "Indie" artists' albums. This album only has two flaws. As I said there are a few more experimental tracks that you'll probably end up skipping the majority of the time. Also, it is a relatively short album. But, don't you worry. This album has some amazing songs that outshine those two flaws, earning it a solid 5 stars. Highlights: Caring Is Creepy Girl Inform Me New Slang

A Near Perfect Album

Admittedly, I hadn't heard of the Shins until I saw the movie, Garden State. Upon hearing "New Slang," I had to hear what else this band was up to, and once I bought "Oh Inverted World," I was hooked. I was hooked BIG TIME. Now I look at the Shins as one of the best bands. They write unbelievably great pop songs. I consider "Oh Inverted World" their best album so far, but its not without "Chutes Too Narrow" constantly nipping at its heels.

This may be the greatest collection of songs ever...

I love the Shins. I've never heard anything like them. Comparing them is nearly impossible. This is the most intelligent music written in a very long time.


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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