After four years and a turnover of band members it comes as no surprise to find veteran indie band The Shins sound has substantially altered on new album Port of Morrow. Gone is the experimental nature of their last record, replaced with tunes aimed firmly at the airwaves.
Tracks such as Simple Songand Bait and Switch rejoice in their pop nature, with simple uplifting instrumentals coupled with a crisp, clear vocal.
In fact, the album feels distinctly summery and can easily be imagined providing the background music for this summer’s raft of holiday adverts. The band claimed it would be happier than their previous work and the music has certainly delivered on this promise.
But on closer examination the lyrics contain a bleaker message which can easily be missed as you get swept away by the dreamy melodies. The break has seen vocalist and lyricist James Mercer acting as a therapist for his friends and he has channelled those experiences into a set of songs which could almost act as a self-help album.
Lyrics such as "I’ve been down the very road you’re walking now / It doesn’t have to be so dark and lonesome” from It’s Only Life hint at dark moments in his own past and how he has used them to help those around him.
With a brighter sound and the same way with words that’s always been present, it’s a relief to have The Shins back. We may not have realised, but the music world has definitely missed them
Cardiffian rating: 4 stars.