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Phantom Limb - Single

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Customer Reviews

Worth the wait

The Shins have made a curious move with the single release of Phantom Limb / Split Needles. In advance of the January 2007 release of Wincing the Night Away, they've given us one track that characterizes the full release, and another that seems determined to throw the hounds off their trail. On "Phantom Limb," the Shins have channeled Phil Spector, both in its deeply layered wall-of-sound instrumental mix, and its primary rhythmic motif reminiscent of the Crystals. It's tempting to pick out myriad influences -- the Zombies? the Kinks? Belle and Sebastian? -- but on the balance, it's pure Shins. Like most Shins songs, the melody can be difficult to grasp upon first listening, but give it time: soon it will wrap its tendrils around your mind, and you'll find yourself waking up with snippets of it playing in your head. Lyrically, it's classic Mercer, sprinkled full of melancholy imagery and strangely juxtaposed phrases. You know it means something, even if it's not always clear specifically what, so it tends to build a mental collage whose whole isn't evident from its parts. Overall an excellent choice for a single release. The alternate version of "Split Needles," though, sounds like nothing on Wincing, including "Split Needles" itself -- which may be a deliberate statement that the new album is meant to contain a few surprises. The album track has an air of mystery, with an ongoing reverb that honors U2 coupled with mind-bending guitar and keyboard flashes that could paint the walls of Syd Barrett's closet. But the single is as far removed from the album cut as "Revolution" (the single) was from "Revolution 1" (on the White Album). Here, it's a pumped-up two-tone ska number; and though the keyboard twists are still present, they now sound more like Blondie. In fact, the whole track comes off like an early '80s single, but without a hint of the irony that you would expect from a pseudo-retro number from, say, No Doubt. Bottom line: if you're a Shins completist, you cannot do without this one, as it's like almost nothing else in their entire catalog, and it hops like a jumping bean. The biggest disappointment with this single release is that it's one song short: Sub Pop's announcement claimed the release would include "Nothing at All." We can hope that the third track will come out soon enough, and we can probably expect that it will also be worth the wait.


The new Shins stuff is AMAZING! As good as their previous work is, the new songs show an extrodinary maturity and growth that is absolutely mind-blowing! Here you will find the dreamy, technical precision of "Oh Inverted World" seamlessly blended with the fun, catchy sound perfected on "Chutes too Narrow". If this EP is any indication of the rest of the new songs, "Wincing the Night Away" will be well worth the wait!

Definitely want to hear more!

I have been anxiously awaiting the Shins' third album, and the Phantom Limb single leaves me definitely wanting more. You can hear the single off their website for free, but it still worth purchasing. The single is reminiscent of R.E.M.'s Monster with the echoing electric guitar riffs combined with the Shin's classic Beach-Boys-esque melodic falsettoes. James Mercer is a genius, and I can't wait for the album to be released. Buy this now!


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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