I’ve spent no shortage of time with The Shins’ latest album, “Port of Morrow” and after a good two-three weeks of listening I still haven’t decided whether it’s unquestionably amazing or equal parts amazing and maddening. Most of my ire comes from the fact that so many of the songs feel like James Mercer going through his LP collection and stating “Hey, I’ll write a Steely Dan song!” (“Fall of 82”), or “You know, I really loved The Smiths” (“No Way Down”). Now to be fair: It’s not a bad thing that half the album sounds like a homage to great artists of old (after all, there’s a reason those artists’ work stay with us), and if an homage is what we get, at least it’s a damn good approximation of the Dan, The Smiths, Radiohead, etc.
But at the end of the day what I was really looking for was a Shins record, and this doesn’t quite feel like one. That said: By no means should you take the aforementioned statements as a warning away from Port of Morrow. It’s chock full of slick, studio sheen pop (and I’m certainly a sucker for it) with more than a few standout tracks. That said: Much as the album itself feels like an homage, here’s a more-than-a-little Wes Anderson-esque video for the second single “Simple Song” (which has just a ridiculously great chorus).