I purchased the Shins' latest Wincing the Night Away way back in the dead of February and at the time I gave it a quick, cursory listen. It ended up on a pile of CDs unplayed for these many months before I dragged it out again recently and loaded it into my iPod for a second try. Well, needless to say, it has received numerous spins over these past few weeks and is fast becoming my favorite disc of the year. For a music lover, there is nothing better than purchasing a disc that leaves you flat initially but then slowly, inexorably reveals tantalizing beauty and mystery. Wincing the Night Away is just such a disc for me.
The first single off the CD, Phantom Limb is jaw-droppingly wonderful and lead vocalist/songwriter James Mercer's melodic voice reminds me of what the Zombies might sound like if they were reincarnated as a twenty-first century indiepop band. This is guitar-based pop music of the highest order and is a worthy successor to their critically acclaimed Oh, Inverted World, and Chutes Too Narrow. By the way, if you should happen to be in Seattle in September, the Shins will be playing Bumbershoot September 1st!