The Shins - Port of Morrow - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Shins - Port of Morrow

by Dan Clay Rating:7 Release Date:2012-03-19

Often when one band member decides dictatorship works best in a band the results can be thoroughly effective. Noel Gallagher's decision to write all of Oasis' songs worked well for two albums and although allowing Liam and co to pick up the pen hardly ruined them, it didn't help them reconnect with their former glories either. James Mercer's decision to effectively run The Shins as a one-man-band with a band has served them well for three albums, so can the fourth continue the winning streak?

Initially, the signs are good with the electronic 'The Rifle's Spiral' and lead single '

' establishing themselves quickly as bona fide Shins compositions complete with jangly melody, surprising chord changes and Mercer's trademark vocal. However, the rather ordinary 'It's Only Life' and 'For a Fool' come off sounding like indie Westlife ballads (if that were possible) as Port of Morrow moves from quirky pop to Travis-esque mediocre melancholy.

Thankfully, the chirpy 'Bait and Switch' and 'No Way Down' lift the pace; the latter one of the more immediate tracks on the album, even if there's nothing here quite as riotously good fun as an 'Australia' or a 'Kissing the Lipless'. It's on the final two tracks, however, that a bit of Mercer magic re-emerges as both '40 Mark Strasse' and the odd falsetto of the title track showcase the band at their laid-back best. It won't be to everyone's tastes but at least it shows a new direction is always worth taking.

Port o0f Morrow won't change your life, much as Natalie Portman might like it to (If you've seen Garden State then you'll know why), but it will make it more enjoyable and mellow for 40 minutes or so.

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