The Shins were cool when I was an angsty teen and Garden State was, in my opinion, the most profound film. Now as an adult I look back on those years with fondness and the Shins album Oh, Inverted World manages to make me feel nostalgic (particularly “New Slang”, I really like that one). Naturally, listening to a new album by The Shins was going to be a disappointment because nothing can ever live up to the feels of old school Shins. I will, however, quickly note that James Mercer – Shins front man and lead vocalist – self produced and recorded Heartworms. So I’ll give him some points for keeping it real. But this album just sucked so hard. Why? Let’s talk about it and I’ll try my best to be nice.
The intention of this album is endearing, it stay’s true to the former glory days of 2000’s indie and The Shins sound that we know and love. But the songs in Heartworms blend into one another and create a kind of monotonous background noise. The first song of the album (‘Name for You’) is kinda cute with its classic sunny day feels and harmonies. The lyrics serve as a warning for girls, a satirical anthem for resisting traditional gender roles. ‘You’re getting on in years/ You can keep your can up/ If you just never eat again.’
I couldn’t even listen to ‘Painting a Hole’ because it made me feel anxious with its annoying ‘la-las’ and attempts at psychedelic sounds. Another OK track that ventured outside of The Shins “safe zone” was ‘Mildenhall’. It plays with the style of a southern USA Country song with its systematic rhythm and breaks in Mercer’s voice at low notes. As for the rest of the tracks on this album, they were too simplistic and offered nothing new to its listeners.
After some deep thought I had come to the conclusion that maybe it’s not the album that sucked, but rather I, myself am the one who sucks. A 22 year old female who would prefer to listen to Young Thug rap about nutting on a chicks face rather than an artist who possesses legitimate musical skill (in the traditional sense). But also, let’s just acknowledge that the entirety of indie as a genre has delved too deep into mainstream pop and the days of Death Cab and The Shins can never be re-lived.
Words by Jasmine Tara Erkan
This review first appeared in print volume 88 edition 3 SOAP.