Music Review: Port of Morrow by The Shins

By Vanessa Butler

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James Mercer's music has been there with us through the thick and thin, and we’re sure this new sound will grow on us soon.


Sole original member of the Shins, James Mercer, has traded in his metaphorical indie cred as well as old members of the band drummer Jesse Sandoval and keyboardist Martin Crandall for a well-produced fourth album entitled Port of Morrow. Co-produced alongside award winning American songwriter and pop producer Greg Kurstin, Port of Morrow will be the first album off of Mercer’s label Aural Apothecary and is the first Shins album to not be released on Sub Pop records.

With newish members Ron Lewis from Grand Archives, Eric D. Johnson from Fruitbats, and Joe Plummer of the popular band ModestMouse, Port of Morrow has been in the works since 2008. Starting with the lush track “The Rifle’s Spiral", seasoned Shin’s enthusiasts will immediately notice the production and sound is smoothed and well-crafted in a way that is not intrusive to what we love so much about Mercer’s music. “Simple Song,” the first single off of the new album is anything but.

Playing vicariously through riffs and chords of music eras of the past like the Motown subgenre and alt-rock of the 90’s, the single really displays Mercer’s talent as a songwriter. The track “Bait and Switch” sounds like it could’ve been off of The Shin’s famous record Oh, Inverted World if it didn’t have that electro produced sound to it.This may not be the same Shins sound track when we cried over ex-lovers, drank beers on the patio with college friends and drove around on a two person scooter on warm summer nights (that last memory may have been a scene in Garden State) but just like The Shins, we’ve changed too. James Mercer’s music has been there with us through the thick and thin, and we’re sure this new sound will grow on us soon.

Best Tracks: “No Way Down,” “The Rifle’s Spiral,” “Simple Song”

Skip These: “Fall of ‘82,” “September”


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