Over twenty years since forming, The Shins are still recognised as one of the most influential American indie rock bands of all time. Adding to their already impressive catalogue, Heartworms, out today, is the latest Shins record to grace our ears.
Stepping it up a notch, the brand new album is the first Shins album to be self-produced by lead singer James Mercer since their 2001 release Oh, Inverted World. The Shins’ fifth studio album to date, Heartworms was written, recorded and produced entirely by Mercer in his converted carriage-home studio in Portland, Oregon.
The Shins most adventurous album to date, the eleven-track record features a wide variety of flavours. From lush, layered arrangements and those covered in synthesised grooves like ‘Name For You’ and ‘Painting A Hole’ to a more country kicking vibe such as that of ‘Mildenhall’, the experimentation is seamlessly endless.
In terms of Mercer’s lyrical palette, Heartworms draws from fictional character sketches (‘Fantasy Island’, ‘Rubber Ballz’), plays on autobiographical accounts (‘Mildenhall’) and also expresses a resounding call for female empowerment inspired by Mercer’s three daughters (‘Name For You’).
By exploring his own production strengths while staying true to his distinct voice, songwriting and composition skill set, Mercer has create an album that offers a nostalgic nod to the album’s predecessors but then moves into a whole new area of sound.