By Krystal Sidzyik, Senior Staff Writer
Every so often an album comes along that’s flawless from beginning to end. Indie rock band from Albuquerque, N.M., The Shins have done just that with their latest album “Port of Morrow” released on March 20. This is the band’s fourth studio album.
The album is mainly a collaboration between singer and songwriter, James Mercer and co-producer Greg Kurstin. Mercer is the only remaining member of the original band members from when the band first formed in 1996. According to the band’s official website, the new band backing Mercer on his current tour include singer/songwriter Richard Swift, Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer, Yuuki Matthews of Crystal Skulls and Jessica Dobson.
It’s been awhile since fans last heard from The Shins. “Port of Morrow” comes after a five-year break. Their last album, “Wincing the Night Away,” was released in 2007. This new album was well worth the wait. It’s melodic and soothing like a warm bowl of soup on a snowy and bitter December day. The difference between this album and the previous ones is Mercer’s use of electronic-a definite shift in sound. But the shift isn’t bad. The songs are as intriguing as they are easy on the ear.
Mercer’s polished voice and lyrics are also something to pay attention to. Love is a major theme throughout all the songs. In the song “For a Fool,” Mercer sings, “The way we used to carry on is stuck in my head like a terrible song.” In “Bait and Switch,” he sings, “I’m just a simple man/ Cursed with an honest heart/ Watch her go and tear it all apart.” Love isn’t the only theme though, nature can be found as a theme in some of the songs also. In “No Way Down” he sings “Living high on a giant hawk/ On a mountain so steep/ Keep your head in a hollow log.”
Each song is magnificent and calming. It’s the perfect music to write to, study to or even fall asleep to. Mercer has perfected the art of commonplace songwriting and singing. “Port of Morrow” is impossible to shut off. Fans will love every minute of every song because even though Mercer infused much more electronica in this album, the band’s original indie rock sound can still be heard. This should please fans as well as keep them wanting more from The Shins.
The Shins are currently on tour in Europe before starting their North America tour on April 13. The band is scheduled to play Harrah’s Stir Concert Cove on May 21. The venue is 21 and older. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at ticketmaster.com.