|1. Caring Is Creepy|
|2. One By One All Day|
|3. Weird Divide|
|4. Know Your Onion!|
|5. Girl Inform Me|
|6. New Slang|
|7. The Celibate Life|
|8. Girl On The Wing|
|9. Your Algebra|
|10. Pressed In A Book|
|11. The Past And Pending|
The first thing that frustrated me with this album is the vocals. The melodies are nice, but its hard to catch the lyrics. For one thing, the vocal levels are a bit low in comparison with the other mid-range sounds. On top of that, there's a good deal of reverb in the production, and on numerous songs it sounds like there are two nearly identical vocal tracks with slightly different timing and different pan. With Mercer's lazy singing style the combined effect are vocals that blend well with the album's sound a little too well, making it hard to understand the words.
But my hardness of hearing has turned out to be fortunate for me since I don't like the lyrics at all. To me, the lyrics sound like bad school-assignment free-verse poems. It's a matter of taste, I guess, but for me the album is only good for background music, or a careful listen to sound only. It's a good album, with some great ingenuity and display of talent - but a three-starrer, not five.
I stumbled on this band by accident, looking up other acts on Amazon such as Stereo Total and Death by Chocolate. I was surprised to find out the Shins weren't from the UK, because they have a Britpop sound. Their soft, infectious rhythyms make it hard to do anything else except listen closely. Pretty much all the songs on this CD are exceptionally strong, with little filler. Okay, maybe "Your Algebra" references Os Mutantes a bit much, and yes, fine, "The Past and Pending" feels a bit long at the end there, but why carp? This album rolls dreamily by, as pretty and sublime as puffy white clouds in a clear blue spring sky. The thing is: this album is candy. Sweet and piercing, it will cloy lovingly at your heart, without you quite understanding why or how. And that's just fine.
"Know Your Onion" and "New Slang" are my two favorite songs, because they're sung in an aching ballad tempo with a bit of added verve behind it. Just my style. If you like Belle and Sebastian, but prefer their snappier (although more rare) tracks to their more heartfelt precious songs, then you'll really love the Shins. The album opener, "Caring is Creepy" immediately demands attention, because it has a soaring melody, with a glam-rock bent that recalls, oddly enough, Roxy Music. All the songs hang solidly onto quick, shocking melodies, and make their statement.Read more ›
Each song is a masterpiece of its own right, but I prefer the seemingly different 'Past and The Pending' because of its interesting horn work and downtrodden feel. This band took the indie world by storm when this album came out. It was entirely out of left-field: A psychedilic (sp) rock band out of New Mexico? How does that happen? and what's that? They sound good? sign me up.
Its interesting to note that the track 'Celibate Life' not about abstinence in its traditional sense, but rather keeping away from drugs, which can be seen as satrical given the era they are borrowing from.
The imagery is what really sells this album. Nowhere else will you find emotional imagery as vivid as The Shins (ex. Her lips when she speaks are the valleys and peaks of a mountain range on fire) Its incredible to visualize and to just ponder.
Definitely one of the best albums of 2001 even with all the other great debuts of the year.