The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow

September 29th, 2004
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Narrow Chutes Yield Good Tunes

CAUTIONARY NOTE: Exposure to this album will cause involuntary toe tapping and head nodding. That right folks, The Shins’ sophomore album, Chutes Too Narrow, will get you moving. The first track, “Kissing the Lipless,” opens with James Mercer’s soft vocals over sleepy guitars, but then it explodes into a rockin’ good time that will make you want to dust off you dancing shoes and strap ‘em on for the remainder of the album. Though the latter half lets up slightly, any loss of quality can only be measured against the exceptional nature of the first half.Perhaps it’s Mercer’s voice, reminiscent of a younger Doug Martsch (Built to Spill), or maybe Martin Lesley’s playful keyboards. Whatever it is, every song of Chutes is sprinkled with that infectious substance that clings to your vocal chords so that you’re singing them for days. However, that’s not to say that the album is simply a collection of empty, catchy tunes. Chutes is an introspective endeavor with songs like “Young Pilgrims” exploring religion and existential angst.

On their follow-up to Oh, Inverted World, The Shins have become genre-hoppers at time, creating an eclectic, but unmistakably Shins album. “Turn a Square” plays like a sixties rock song, and then there’s the rockabilly guitar twang of “Gone for Good.” However, with Mercer’s signature vocals, it is undeniably The Shins.

Chutes Too Narrow is a great ride – one to be ridden again and again. Unless you’re a surly curmudgeon, you’ll dig it. And even if you are a surly curmudgeon, things are now looking up.

By Ari Levitch Posted in Reviews