Friday, April 27, 2007

The Shins- Whincing the Night Away

I had recently purchased the newest Shins record "Whincing the Night Away" . I have to say I was disappointed. It seemed so wishy-washy. I was a huge fan of their second album "Chutes to Narrow" with its country inspired upbeat, indie-rock. The entire album had radio appeal, perhaps only not received due to unpolished vocals-which I must admit, I adore. All the songs were kept tidy between 3 and 4:25 minutes. "Saint Simon" being the longest track. Although I've been known to adore epic songs from "Genesis", "Yes" and even stoner-doom metal like "Sleep" with their 56 minute epic claim to fame "Dope Smoker", I have to say that I still love and appreciate anyone who can sum it all up in 3 1/5 minutes! and damn do the Shins have it down on that damn record.

My disappointment on "Whincing the Night Away" came about because the music felt like it was trying to be something it can never be. It felt like it was going the way of the drawn out post-rock bands which are still of course, gaining underground popularity. Now don't wig out on me. I'm not dissing post-rock... completely. There are a few notable post-rock bands that I happen to enjoy, these include various bands on Montreal's own Constellation Records and other bands like "Explosions in the Sky".

And let me just define what it post-rock . Post rock in my terms, is atmospheric music, usually vocal-less and created by the standard guitar,drums,bass combination. Sometimes (and more and more often) including Keys. Although often mistaken as synth users, most of the distorted sounds are made with guitar pedals, rather than keyboard synthesizers and laptop medi files and loop tracks. Post rock typically has 15 minute songs that usually build up and fizzle out. Now I have to say that I'm not the biggest Post-rock fan and that may be due to a lack of THC in my blood. But there certainly are some diamonds in the category.

Getting back to "Whincing the Night Away", I wanted to say that I really disliked this new wanna-be atmospheric writing style. They don't pull it off very well. Although there were a few track that seemed to reflect a certain "oh Inverted world" (the shins first album), the whole album felt like a step backwards. Although there was still vocals, many of the songs seemed to exude an anti-climatic, spacial linger. It didn't seem to matter if I started the song from the beginning or the middle, I was relatively unaffected by its content. I know I have to give the album another chance though because I can't believe that they could let me down. Even the raw garage-rock feeling was missing from "Whincing".

There was also this feeling like they were giving up or something. I wonder if the Shins will fade away now? Or perhaps other fans thought this record was a breakthrough. I just found it hard to listen to. Like a book with an awful Prologue, after the first song I had to make myself finish.

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