The Shins - Port of Morrow
Five years after their previous release, The Shins finally return to satisfy the famished indie rockers travelling on the Shins-less desert. Their latest album, “Port of Morrow,” heads to higher horizons with bolder directions, previously unseen in the band’s repertoire.
James Mercer. James Mercer. James Mercer. He is the frontman of The Shins and frankly, receives an abundance of attention in comparison to the band itself. Even between the five years from the last album, “Wincing the Night Away,” Mercer kept a busy and ubiquitous presence without falling to shreds. With successful projects like Broken Bells between then and now, Mercer bringing back The Shins brought more attention than what their next album would actually sound like. With all this behind “Port of Morrow,” the album’s almost utilized as a solo album for Mercer, given the attention he receives on the record, and that’s not a bad thing. The Shins haven’t lost a drop of their honey as “Port of Morrow” may very well be their most earnest, nostalgic and ambitious release to date.
Opening with tracks “The Rifle’s Spiral” and “Simple Song”, there is an undeniable artistic pride coming from these guys letting us know loud and clear: they’re back. Both songs take their beloved pop elements from “Wincing the Night Away” and amplify it on an Arcade Fire anthemic scale, all while delivering a resonating youthfulness. “Port of Morrow” then lets the remaining eight tracks switch gears back and forth between emotionally and sonically reminiscencing of a yesteryear. A yesteryear filled with bittersweet tragedies which fuel the heart with a sadness too intimate to detach from. A yesteryear featuring ‘80s rock and pop tunes constantly playing on FM radio, based on classical melodies floating about the air from cruising California convertibles on a baby blue evening sky. These elements build the unique style and atmosphere Port of Morrow shows with pride. “No Way Down” and “Fall of ‘82” are so drenched in ‘80s rock nostalgia, it’s unprecedented. “For a Fool” and “September” hold an uncanny resemblance with Wilco’s experimental acoustic pieces, circa 1998. Sprinkle some simpler takes of experimental rock elements from past albums (“Oh, Inverted World”) on all these ideas and somewhere along the line, you’ll land on the gold mine Mercer builds his work on: a cavern of pleasantries and nirvana.
What The Shins feel, they release, and they do so with intricate emotional delivery and boastful confidence. It’s this notion that makes “Morrow” so successful: how effortlessly genuine and unpretentious everything feels. Let yourself fall down the rabbit hole, Port of Morrow is one of the year’s best joyful, cathartic trips.
This album was my dad. (8/10)
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