The Shins

The year was 1996, and the world was anointing the less deserving with accolade upon accolade, while a small band from New Mexico quietly composed one pop masterpiece after another. The band was Flake Music, which was ignored in one form but is now celebrated universally through its new identity as The Shins. The Shins are Flake Music but all grown up, not so willing to bury emotions beneath the distortion pedal. This quartet has always been making great music, even if the press wants you to swallow The Shins as an overnight accident. Oh, Inverted World revels in breezy, swaying, perfect pop for the calming summer dusk—think Belle and Sebastian and early R.E.M. “New Slang” is a sad acoustic lament that truly represents the gifts James Mercer holds as a songwriter and vocalist. Though some heartless bastards will dismiss this as only indie rock, Mercer’s love of lyrical imagery buoys these songs to an elevation rarely achieved in pop music.