Combining the dulcet tones of the Beach Boys with melodies so infectious the Beatles might turn green with envy, The Shins typify what's right with early 21st-century pop music. This is not Clear Channel's contrived cookie-cutter pop. This is indie pop, complete with '80s nods, country flourishes, and truly clever lyrics. This is get-up-and-dance pop that is as wide as the Western expanses of the group's native New Mexico, while still managing to occasionally crawl into those dark, gritty emotional spaces that indie songwriters love so much. To be certain, the band's new CD, Wincing the Night Away, finds the band delving further into that desolate musical landscape than ever before even employing ambient noise and pensive lyrical turns. But The Shins never sacrifice their guitar pop roots or their arresting melodies. If you dig underground pop à la Guster and The New Pornographers, The Shins should tickle your fancy.
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