From what I understand, Albuquerque, N.M. is not famous for churning out fabulous indie rock acts. In fact, of my New Mexican acquaintances, metal seems to be the genre of choice for braving the dusty streets. The times they are a-changin’, judging by the Shins’ new album, Chutes Too Narrow. This album manages to prove that Beach Boys-like pop stylings make just as much sense originating 900 miles away from the ocean.
The Shins sound like the kind of record you would throw on in the middle of a lazy Sunday afternoon. Complete with melodic vocals, vintage guitar melodies and the occasional handclap or tambourine, this band aims to please. Though their sound is not totally unique to the indie scene, it is significantly better than the scores of throwback bands from the recent years. At least the Shins deserve credit for forming in 1992, years prior to the indie explosion.
Now part of the amazing Sub Pop family which includes such bands as the Postal Service and the Afghan Whigs, the Shins are working hard to stick to their humble roots, continuing to record in singer James Mercer’s basement. In an industry full of music that has been overproduced into oblivion, the Shins’ balanced approach to the recording process is one to be commended.
Full of catchy and upbeat songs like “Kissing the Lipless” written with an experienced and poetic touch, this album doesn’t disappoint. In fact, I’d recommend it with a cup of tea while lounging on the couch.
[Brenna Boyce is in the double initials club with JJ so don’t mess.]