The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow

It’s my belief that people who like music with guitars have every right to despair of our wretched decade and its tight-trousered ‘The … band’ sub-Ramones pop idols. Thankfully there is salvation out there is you are willing to find it. A good first stop would be The Shins’ delightful second album. A four-man attack on musical boredom with so much imagination that it practically oozes out of the CD.

“Just a glimpse of an ankle and I, react like its 1805” confesses James Mercer in ‘Turn A Square’; a fair claim to greatness in itself for my money and typical of his lyrical style, where nonsensical daydreams are peppered with razor-sharp one-liners. The music is rich too, with vocal harmonies and strings rising and falling around Mercer’s leads, which are delivered from a John Lennon solo-era type echo chamber. Song highlights come thick and fast; from the caustic ‘Mine’s Not a High Horse’ to the faux-Americana of ‘Gone for Good’ there really isn’t a bum track. And in the form of album centrepiece ‘Saint Simon’ (“the cruel uneventful state of apathy releases me”) the Shins may well have penned the anthem of our generation.

By Ollie Brown

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