'Port of Morrow' perfect combination of indie, pop to please all Shins fans
Five years is too long to wait for most anything, especially a new album from a frontrunning band.
Granted, the group changed personnel and labels since the 2007 release of “Wincing the Night Away,” but it seems the wait was worth it because “Port of Morrow” is a fantastically-produced, well-rounded album.
The Shins built its success upon being predominantly “indie pop” — the inevitable bridge between pretentious, “music-connisseur” hipsters and folks who listen to that guy who used to be in the TV show, “Degrassi.”
The group is careful to tip-toe the fine line of being just hipster enough for the hipsters and just pop enough for the general consensus without alienating either group.
If anything, The Shins has been a sort of gateway-drug band for most “mainstream” music consumers who find the unfamiliar and, quite frankly, weird landscape that makes up indie music very uninviting.
The band stayed true to that approach through thick and thin, and the result is an amalgamation of different genres and styles wrapped up in an indie pop hybrid shell that should please the vast majority of music consumers.
Those previously familiar with The Shins should have been pleased with the album’s first single, “Simple Song,” which was exactly that. It pulled every bit of any song from the band’s previous installments that anyone liked (except maybe the quirkiness of some songs on 2003’s “Chutes Too Narrow”) into one promise of a great new album. It was catchy and upbeat, inviting and inclusive.
During the first listen-through of the full new release, it’s obvious early on the group has a different sound than when we first left them half a decade ago.
Despite the departure of a few members, frontman James Mercer resolved to rebuild the broken pieces into something vaguely familiar but excitingly new.
The influences of the indie influx into popular music since the last album are apparent in the transformation of the band, but Mercer made sure never to stray too far from what worked in the first place — a perfect, balanced marriage of indie and pop music to appeal to the most people possible in a non-threatening way.
If “Simple Song” didn’t do enough to win you over, try out “Bait and Switch” (ironic, I know) or “40 Mark Strasse,” two very different songs with one singular message: The Shins are back, and you won’t be disappointed.
James Corley is a journalism senior and the night editor of The Daily.