The Shins

Wincing the Night Away
(Sub Pop)

The Shins have gone heavy on atmosphere, light on the rocking on Wincing the Night Away, which only makes it that much more effective on those rare occasions in which they do kick it in — more than two minutes into the opening track, for example, where chugging guitars take the wheel and go wild in the streets on a song that begins in a space-rocking dream state. It's a sound they do well. But the focus on more mellow, more reflective moments hasn't hurt them any, setting up such moody highlights as the melancholy, tremolo-guitar-fueled sleepwalk through "Pam Berry," the ether-dwelling "Black Wave," and the wistful, Spector-girl-group charms of "Turn on Me," with its opening croon of "You can fake it for a while/Bite your tongue and smile/Like every mother does her ugly child." There are times here in which James Mercer's pining vocal style verges on the stylishly Morrissey-esque, which, on midtempo rockers such as "Phantom Limb," just about screams "We are so fucking into the Smiths!" But, ultimately, if there's any band this album sounds like, it's The Shins, albeit a different Shins than that of Oh, Inverted World. But the good bands always change.

 
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