Mar 15, 2017

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Album Review: The Shins – Heartworms

The alternative/indie rock sensation The Shins are back with new music, their first since 2012’s Port Of Morrow. After a five-year break from the studio the Shins return with Heartworms, jam-packed with the classic grooves and upbeat positivity that you’ll find on any rocking Shins record.

The first single, Name For You, is the poppy, alternative jam that has been missing from the WFUV (and many other radio stations) mix tapes all these years. Lead singer James Mercer ponders the existential, deep meaning of the name singing in the chorus of the song “What’s in a name?”. Painting A Hole then captures the attention of listeners immediately with its chunk and drive percussive drumbeat. The drum pattern stays exciting throughout the whole track, keeping your brainwaves bouncing from one end of the dynamics spectrum to another.

Cherry Hearts attains memorable moments from its uniquely electropop vibe. It seems as if James Mercer almost achieved assistance from LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy on this track since it sounds like it belongs in a set of music at Electric Daisy Carnival. The first full listen through this song is definitely one of the songs that sticks out.

Fantasy Island on the other hand, is the first mellow song on the album. Even though the beat drops for the chorus and the song gains momentum, the overall vibe of the song is quieter and less intense than other louder, happier sounding songs.

Mildenhall is the most classic sounding Shins song on the entire record, probably because the whole time you’re listening to it you feel like you’re listening to the B-side to their classic song New Slang from their 2001 debut Oh, Inverted World. Rubber Ballz then shifts the style back to the eccentric electro pop feel that dominates Heartworms in its entirety. This song also achieves the energy and feel of classic sounding Shins songs.

Half A Million is another immediate attention-grabber as James Mercer jumps right into the verse of the song at the very instant the track starts. The Shins continually prove throughout this record that they’re able to change their original indie sound as well as keep it strongly framed as an essential seed to any new song idea. Dead Alive is another song that takes listeners back to the beginning days of the band and feels like a B-side of one of the tracks on those early records. Something about Mercer’s voice and the absence of heavy studio production keeps the sound young.

The Shins have proven again with their latest album that they are a major force in the indie rock world and this Summer, fans should be looking forward to hearing the track list of Heartworms live on stage.

Scott J. Herman