This is the follow-up to their critically acclaimed debut full-length, "Oh, Inverted World". With ten songs, clocking in at just over 30 minutes, the new record is a brief yet entirely scintillating glimpse at chiming, reflective, and perfectly skewed pop innovation. It's exactly what Shins fans are looking for and more.
The Shins' sophomore album is a joy from start to finish, though it's rather different from their 2001 leftfield pop genius stunner Oh, Inverted World
. That album was like a warm embrace from a long-lost pal. True to its title, all of the songs were of a piece, seeming to inhabit one landscape, with an invitingly similar sound throughout. Chutes
is more far-reaching and decidedly eclectic. Each song is essentially its own genre exercise. There's singer-songwriter James Mercer's surprisingly Perry Farrell-ish wail on the almost indie-metal opener, "Kissing the Lipless"; the lovely pedal steel lilt to "Gone for Good"; the moody folktronica of "Those to Come"; and the Cars-gone-rockabilly riffing on "Turn a Square." The strongest song, the acoustic "Young Pilgrims," is stripped-down and brilliant. On every tune, Mercer packs more hooks and melodic invention than most bands do on one album. As a whole, it's an even better record than Inverted World
. --Mike McGonigal