Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Simple Songs

Whether it was your joyfully angsty days as a teenager or the day that Garden State, one of the most game-changing soundtracks of our time appeared on the charts - you and I both know we've all had a short, or long, love affair with The Shins. I can't really put my finger on what it is about these godfathers of indie rock - aside from that title being undoubtedly theirs - but I do know that between James Mercer's shrill indie howl, kooky lyrics and dreamy melodies, this band is usually the first thing that comes to my mind when the word "indie" is uttered.

In a day and age of underground sounds, misfit noise and indie peculiarities - sometimes, it's nice to hear back from the originators of an old kind of indie experimentation. A group of guys who, without butchering tracks with oddities and jolting interjections in an attempt to enhance originality, chose to weave a likable rock sound - something that maintained the attractive elements of a catchy sound - into melodies that were/are definitely new age and mainstream-challenging. And don't get me wrong, I love a lot of the weirdness and experimentation in music today - but, The Shins' fun song concepts, downright musical talent and whimsical storytelling are what have led them naturally to becoming one of the most definitive indie rock bands of the past two decades, without all of the shocking or strange bells and whistles tacked on to what's considered indie music today.

And that kind of originality and plain talent often equals longevity, as it has for this band who have stood the test of time since stepping onto the scene in '96. Last month, The Shins released the first glimpse into their latest masterpiece since 2007 - one that follows in the footsteps of past classics like Oh, Inverted World and Wincing The Night Away - called Port of Morrow, that features this first very Shin-like track, "Simple Song." I am in love this this song; The piercing vocals, soft kickdrum backing and sunny chord progression are fit for a bike ride around the world in springtime (something I always feel about Shins music). It's something, some feeling and some sound, that's so very reminiscent of why I fell in love with the band in the first place. They just sound like the feeling of growing up, don't you think? Or maybe they sound like deciding not to grow up. Either way, The Shins sound something like that.

Not sure if you will as much as I do, but I just love what happens around 2:45 - that moment when the power-pop anthem winds down into a calm hush, before flying right back into its blissful rock oblivion.


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