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Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Shins – Port of Morrow

Anyone fearing that James Mercer’s busman’s holiday with Danger Mouse in Broken Bells may have jolted him into new and adventurous regions of music needn’t have worried. James returns to the familiar Shins territory and song structures like a duck to water, with the only slight deviation that some of the lyrics and musical twists sound more Morrissey-esque than usual, but that’s no bad thing. This is a consistent, high quality and enjoyable album that’s up there with his best.

Opinion seems to be split on Port of Morrow, but I’m definitely for this comfortable return to form, with James happily ploughing his own furrow as usual. If anything it’s a bigger, more epic and expansive sound than previous Shins albums, but it’s nonetheless as introverted and personal as its predecessors. It’s possibly going to get filed as one of those vastly under-rated albums akin to ‘New Adventures in Hi-Fi’, but history will prove this is one of Mercer’s finest moments.

The standout tracks are the philosophical charms of ‘Simple Song’, the downbeat melancholy of ‘September’ and the anthemic but intimate ‘Port of Morrow’. Best of all is the classic ‘It’s only life’; a stirring homage to Morrissey, but obviously sung in the style of the Shins. And let’s be honest we all spend a little time going down the rabbit hole don’t we? ‘Bait and Switch’ is also cracker.

So a another polished album from an original and unique artist, but one question remains unanswered… What exactly is that thing sitting on top of the mountain on the front cover? A rabbit? A shamen? A cactus? The little helper fellow from Crash Bandicoot? The pupil of an eye? Is it even a mountain? Who knows?  


  1. I remember the album got mixed reviews from critics, which surprised me, because its actually above average, with many highlights. The LP is in my top 20 of 2012.
    My favorites are September,The Rifle's Spiral,No Way Down, and It's Only Life. Simple Song is good too.
    That creature on the artwork is still puzzling me as well, very mysterious :)

  2. Maybe we expect to much from him now, but I thought it was great.

  3. I much preferred the Danger Mouse Stuff. I'd even go as far as saying that I liked it.