This record came out at the start of the year, and I still listen to it. The Shins, I think, will go down as my favourite band of the decade. Their two previous albums, Oh Inverted World and Chutes Too Narrow have soundtracked the last six years. This continues with Wincing the Night Away.
I have good memories of this record. Walking around Kensington, middle of the night, listening to the opener, Sleeping Lessons, and looking at the open sky above Hyde Park. That keyboard line is the twinkle of stars. James Mercer, that brilliant man, screams out some brilliant nonsense over it.
There are a handful of classic Shins pop songs on here. First single Phantom Limb is the best of the lot, really. It reaches for the sky, with a sadness and again, beautiful nonsense. You kind of do, and you kind of don’t, know what Mercer is on about. Turn On Me, another highlight, is a lot clearer. A goodbye to someone you don’t get along with.
And again, there’s that soundtracking. Which pushes this record, and the two records ahead of it, above the pack. I will listen to this record and forever think of being in London for the first time. I did see them 4 times this year. So Turn On Me makes me think of someone I never got along with. And Girl Sailor, the third of the great pop songs, just nails something I’ve felt. By being wonderfully ambiguous about it.
The rest of the record has some nice slow haunting stuff, and some trippy sampling stuff. All of which is great. It’s a bit hypnotic, this record. Someone could come along and remix it. There are oddities, like the less than a minute long Pam Berry.
So I’ve listened to this record at least once a week since the start of the year and there are still things I’m learning about it. I think Chutes… might just edge it out, but if they come up with another great record before 2010, they will have ruled this entire decade for me.