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The Shins
"Chutes Too Narrow"
by: Sun-J

Usually when a band debuts strong, and are labeled with more potential than the Olsen twins at fifteen, their sophomore efforts are usually considered flops or not on par with the first release. Few artists have the ability to improve with the second record after "shocking" the world with their debut. In fact, only two artists come to mind, Eminem (Although Eminem's 3rd release is magnitudes in electro-volts off the energy brandished by his first two) and Coldplay. I'm sure there are many more, though those are the first to "pop" into mind...Get it? "Pop." Right...well then, scientifically speaking, the Shins' second helping is a resonance structure to the first. In other words, both are equally good, and each has weaknesses and strengths.

The Shins' 2001 release, Oh Inverted World! had everyone and their mom in the indie rock scene creaming their panties, labeling the Shins as the next Beach Boys. On Oh Inverted World!, the Shins displayed their skill as they mastered sixties Britpop and seventies top forty rock. On their new release, Chutes Too Narrow, the gang efficiently morph their already eclectic sound to further their musical growth (as well as their careers!). Gone are the highly reverbed songs with fledgling sixties, vintage pride marked all over them. Gone are the perky one liners, and do wop melodies. Chutes Too Narrow is refined, emotional, and sparkling with empathy and passionate excitement amidst handclaps and tambourines. The band's second LP more importantly marks a growth for lead singer James Mercer. His vocals focus much more for pinnacle-orgasmic conclusions to subtle, keytone verses.

The album kicks off with "Kissing the Lipless," which begins with quiet guitar before picking up into an electronic fusion resembling The Strokes of the past. It details a relationship gone bad as Mercer sings, "You've got too much to wear on your sleeves, It has to do with me and I secretly want to bury it in the yard..." "Mines Not a High Horse," is full of instruments including a lush orchestration of meshing synths, guitars plucking, xylophones and cowbells. "Young Pilgrim," is a sliding rhythm with a hop scotch playground melody. "Gone For Good," marks more eclectic music from the Shins as they produce a country feel with twangy guitars and southern lyricism. The leadoff single, "So Says I," is densely packed with bridging harmonies blanching subtle verses, and the closing song, "Those to Come," is a beautiful acoustic driven number with solo vocals.

These kids hailing from Albuquerque, New Mexico once again return with enthusiasm, Fascinating melodies and asinine sarcasm to provide an on par follow up.



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