The 2012 version of The Shins is slightly different from what we were used to. Except for James Mercer, it’s basically an entirely new band. What has stayed the same however are their particular brand of indie pop tunes. Okay, “Port Of Morrow” sounds more polished and slicker than what we heard on “Wincing The Night Away”. But if you’ve listened to Broken Bells (Mercer’s other project) this can hardly come as a surprise. And it’s not a bad thing at all
The dreamy opener “The Rifle’s Spiral” immediately sets the mood with its reigned in grandeur, only to then be followed by the album’s first single “Simple Song”, a song that manages to mix autumn-y melancholy with the optimism that comes with spring in the best of ways. The bossa nova touch in “Bait And Switch” is a lot of fun as well and “40 Mark Strasse” is just plain endearing.
“Port Of Morrow” will probably not become my favourite Shins album but it’s still an extremely solid release that effortlessly bridges the gap between 60ies pop music, some decidedly 80ies sounds and the indie wave of the 90ies. No small feat but Mercer & co pull it off perfectly.