The Shins // Heartworms
James Mercer's gift for melody hasn't faded in Heartworms.
There's just something magical about James Mercer's voice. These days, the principal songwriter of The Shins is the only one left of the original lineup. Always the driving force of the band, Mercer once again offers up a new addition to the band's catalog. For many, The Shins provided an inimitable soundtrack to the 2000s. They captured an essence of late 60s rock and bottled it for a new generation. Heartworms is their fifth full-length record, and their first since 2012's Port of Morrow. The latest opening track, "Name For You," begins in a familiar tone, a simple drum rhythm against a chorused upbeat guitar. Things gradually change. By the time "Cherry Hole" comes around, you realize that this isn't the same Shins you're used to. Relying much more on keyboard effects and present-day production styles, the result is a modern indie pop sound, perhaps more akin to Mercer's Danger Mouse collaboration, Broken Bells. Although never quite rising to the heights of 2003's Chutes Too Narrow, this latest offering stands on its own. With strong songwriting throughout, Mercer's gift for melody hasn't faded.
– Nick Warren