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The Shins, Wincing the Night Away

Indie-pop darlings the Shins return after a four-year hiatus with one of the most anticipated albums of the year. Back in 2003, critics and fans alike were hyperventilating over their pop odyssey, Chutes Too Narrow, and with good cause. But over the years I’ve found myself unimpressed with the staying power of Chutes and it’s cartoon-y flavoured pop. So with their third release, Wincing the Night Away, they’ve got a lot to prove. Are they just one-album wonders? Or do they have what it takes to outlast our culture’s short attention span? The answer to my cynical rant is all found in opening track, “Sleeping Lessons” which manages to capture all the charm of their past work, while maturing their sound with subtle, dreamy keyboards before ending in an explosion of guitars. Yeah, these boys will be around for a while. Still, the Shins are smart musicians and they haven’t completely changed their sound as to alienate their fans, tracks like “Australia” and “Phantom Limb” could of came right off their past two releases. The most surprising element of Night Away is easily found in darker songs like “Black Wave,” “Pam Berry” and “Split Needles.” All of the above tracks reveal a new musical labyrinth that the Shins should further explore. (Sub-Pop Records) Rating: 3.5 Out Of 5 Stars

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