Chutes Too Narrow
label: Sub Pop
our score: 4.5 out of 5.0
this review out by saying that I haven't ever heard The Shins's
first album, Oh, Inverted World. In fact, I hadn't really
heard of The Shins except for the fact that one our writers had
it on his "now spinning" list. So, as I lay my eyes
upon the fantastic cover art of Chutes Too Narrowat a
local record shop, my interest was piqued.
What lay inside,
however, was much more than I could have expected, for
Chutes Too Narrow is definitely one of the best releases
of 2003, featuring superb songwriting, tightly knit arrangements,
and a smattering of indie-rock sensibilities. From the indie rock
opener, "Kissing the Lipless" to the steel guitar country
riffing of "Gone for Good" there's a sense of musicianship
here that melds itself into bittersweet perfection of the craft
of making a song.
however, is The Shins' penchant for writing a hook without bashing
the listener over the head with it. Songs like "So Says I"
and "Mine's Not a High Horse" bubble over with an understanding
of pop songwriting and the importance of a well-placed vocal harmony.
Yet, the highlight of Chutes Too Narrow remains the surprisingly
naked "Young Pilgrims." The album's only fully
acoustic solo piece, it's also Mercer at his most vulnerable,
with lines like "I was raised to / gather courage / from
those / lofty tales so tried and true / and if you're able / I'd
suggest it / 'cause this modern thought / can get the best of
you ..." dotting its rather introspective landscape.
you haven't yet heard The Shins, I'd suggest you do as I did and
just go pick up a copy. Trust me, if you're a fan of well-crafted
indiepop, there's not much worse you could do. And while you're
at it, pick up Oh, Inverted World. It's on my list, even
though I haven't heard that one yet... but at least now I know
The Shins could hardly disappoint.
liked Chutes Too Narrow...
Kissing the Lipless
2. Mine's Not a High Horse
3. So Says I
4. Young Pilgrims
5. Saint Simon
6. Fighting In a Sack
7. Pink Bullets
8. Turn a Square
9. Gone for Good
10. Those to Come