Sound — 8
In a nutshell, the Shins debut album is a sparkling, unique affair that manages to build on the shimmering '60s sunshine pop and psychedelia of the Beach Boys, Kinks, simon and Garfunkel and others. It, and the band itself, are miles above anything else on the scene. a brief song by song: 01. Caring Is Creepy - this one is the most "alt rock" (I hate that phrase) of the bunch, but has an ethereal alienated feel. Keyboards give it a trippy feel. 02. One By One All Day - now, this sounds just like the kinks, but has that unique mercer lyric approach. "I smell the engine grease and mint the wind is blending." 03. Weird Divide - a short rather psychedelic acoustic number. 04. Know Your Onion - a perfect sunshine pop song that defines adolescence; who could not identify with the opening lines "shut out, pimpled and angry, I quietly tied my guts into knots" at one time or another? 05. Girl Inform Me - more perfect uptempo. and more brilliant lyrics, "unknown quotients, you must be using potions, how else could you tie, my head to the sky." 06. New Slang - this is the best song this decade.haunting, and filled with autumnal grandeur. Stands up with anything the Beatles made. 07. The Celibste Life - joins kyo and gim as simply outstanding pop with a capital P. Idiosyncratic lyrics continue, jangly and at least as identifiable with as know your onion. 08. Girl On The Wing - again, I can't oversell the lyrics.seemingly nonsensical but gives some amazing mental images. 09. Your Algebra - a very haunting, psychedelic song that mixes the gregorian chant style of the Yardbird's "still I'm sad" with a lyric of all things similar to a Henry James quote. 10. Pressed In A Book - careening rock, mildly similar in style to the who's glow girl, but quite wildly original anyhow. 11. The Past And Pending - a brooding acoustic number that has that "end of" feel. french horn solo and general feel recall the beatle's "for no one."
Lyrics — 10
James Mercer has a lyrical style that works in the same way as Dylan and Lennon. They all use that "chain of flashing images' style (think "chimes of freedom, "Strawberry fields") but mercer uses his surreal lyrics for bouncing pop that could have been among the best of anything made between 1965-67, as well as some killer ballads. Mercers voice is unusual in some ways I suppose, but among the best out there.
Overall Impression — 10
I'd like to try to stay away from hyperbole, but this is probably the best album of the decade. It harkens back to the best era in rock and pop music in a unique way- instead of being fairly derivative like, say Jet, the shins actually build on the incomparable pop-rock of the '60s, something no one else has done anywhere near this perfectly. Uptempo, happy sounding songs mix with ballads and gregorian dirges, jangly guitars and high harmonies. The overall fell is not "happy" or sad, for like most great albums, there is a mix of keys and tempos. Some songs here seem to evoke autumn, the end of a Summer and the onset of winter (Perhaps metaphorically). In That respect, and al others, this record can be favorably compared with the likes of Rubber Soul.