Wincing the Night Away
The Shins’ long-awaited third release is great. It may take Shins fans a few listens to really appreciate that greatness, since the album is unfortunately not their best. The three-year wait may have gotten our hopes too high while we tried to imagine what kind of wonderful stew the band was brewing, only to get another damn fine album that sounds like it could have been released right on the tail of the last damn fine album. Despite its place as a merely great effort, Wincing delivers more poetic and poignant yet acerbically humorous lyrics from James Mercer, one of today’s sharpest songwriters. The haunting first single, “Phantom Limb,” and the second track, “Australia,” are immediate standouts. The Shins continue to find a natural sound in a mishmash of retro flourishes from the past five decades of pop.