There aren’t many albums that people are almost tired of hearing and hearing about only days after their proper release. But in a age of “leaked” albums and excessive downloading with no remorse or intent to actually purchase the product, it happens. And it has happened to a large degree with the new album from The Shins, “Wincing The Night Away.”
When the album leaked to the greedy hands of downloader’s across the web months ago, Sub Pop did something right and pushed out an official single, “Phantom Limb” to divert the attention away from the entire album. It was somewhat effective, and did hold some off that prefer holding a CD in hand and actually paging through linear notes.
And now its on record store shelves, and I like many others who either had the patience to wait or maybe just forgot, have been rewarded. (the reward was some great album art and a free 45 with the two b-sides to Phantom Limb). Wincing in certainly not the pop gem that Chutes Too Narrow was. Chutes hooked me right away and I knew that The Shins were destined to become the next big thing in the indie realm. What I didn’t know of course was that they would also achieve success on many other levels, and “change your life” as well, as a certain motion picture’s quote goes.
With a soft and almost distant beginning on “Sleeping Lessons” you should know that this album falls under the category of “grower”. Unlike Chutes it doesn’t bitch slap the listener with a start like “Kissing the Lipless” does, but it demands respect in its own right, climaxing a little more than halfway through and causing you to inch the volume knob back down a bit after it was cranked up to experience the start of the song.
If the album as a whole is a grower, its only fair to say that some tracks do come out fully developed. Tunes like “Australia”, “Turn on Me”, “Phantom Limb”, and “Sea Legs” certainly don’t need that extra spin in order to be appreciated. But other tracks, while solid in their own right, such as “Black Wave” and “Red Rabbits”, are best digested with the “rinse and repeat” method. And although I was hoping that the b-side to the Phantom Limb single, “Nothing At All”, would somehow find its way onto the album, the current group of songs stands strong on its own.
Overall, its an album that could be dismissed quickly by those awaiting another Chutes Too Narrow and the group that have cannonized “New Slang” as a milestone for this generation. But those willing to plant the seed that is Wincing The Night Away, and allow it to be properly listened to and examined over some time, will appreciate the album much more.