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Wincing The Night Away
As The Shins start yet another year tipped as one of the next big things, they must be starting to feel that overnight success is taking a rather long time.
Phil Udell, 02 Feb 2007
As The Shins start yet another year tipped as one of the next big things, they must be starting to feel that overnight success is taking a rather long time. The truth is though, that they’ve only themselves to blame. The great things expected of their last album were somewhat undermined by the fact that it was awful – a hotchpotch of poorly conceived ideas and half-finished songs.
Not that it stopped them enjoying a hip cult status, and now Wincing The Night Away arrives on the revitalised Sub Pop label with a new focus. The improved songwriting can’t navigate around their other overwhelming problem however, that The Shins have got a signature sound and boy do they make the most of it.
The album is awash with lightweight jangly guitar pop, and while there’s no doubt that they can now pen a fine tune (it’s no wonder that ‘Phantom Limb’ is doing brisk radio business), it tends to get a bit cloying as the record wears on.
Fortunately, there's some rough amongst the diamonds. ‘Sealegs’ builds strings and effects over a slowed down hip-hop beat, and the album does toughen up noticeably as it reaches its end, with the gritty ‘Split Needles’ and lovely ballad ‘A Comet Appears’, the best track by a country mile. Whether Wincing The Night Away will enhance The Shins’ commercial standing is anybody’s guess, but it is a huge leap forward, and you have to hope that, whatever happens, next time they’ll continue to find the courage of their musical convictions.