The Shins Chutes Too Narrow

[Sub Pop; 2003]

Styles: sixties-like melodic pop, indie pop
Others: The Beach Boys, Belle & Sebastian, Neutral Milk Hotel

The Shins are somewhat of a reviewer’s wet dream: you don’t have to analyze the lyrics to uncover any deeper meanings or hidden metaphors. You don’t have to dig for clues to the lead singer’s critical opinion about the situation of women in Morocco, or his feelings after his third wife abandoned him and took his five children. Or at least: you don’t have to pay attention to the lyrics to have a great time listening.

Chutes Too Narrow is the second outing from The Shins; their previous outing was called Oh, Inverted World, an album that frequently spins in my CD player. Not because of it’s aesthetical value, or those ‘deeper’ sides of the record, but just because it is such a breeze and joy to listen to. I instantly become happier when I hear their beautiful sixties-inspired music. The same is true for the new record. When I put it on, people immediately start dancing around the room and embrace each other.

Well, not really, but you get the feeling that they could do that any minute.

Just listen to a song like "Saint Simon," which is easily the highlight of the album with its astonishing multi-layered choruses. It feels like the thing that you’ll hear when you enter heaven. And the same is true for "Mine’s Not A High Horse" and "Young Pilgrims."

So, after this raving review you may conclude that Chutes Too Narrow is the best record of the year already. This is, however, not the case. Just because I'll play Chutes Too Narrow probably more than Boy in da Corner, Hail to the Thief or Magnolia Electric Co., it doesn’t mean it will end up higher on my top 10 list. To do that, it still needs to have a little more "body," so to speak. But frankly, the record would probably be shite then. It is good as it is now: a great record to listen to, anytime.

1. Kissing the Lipless
2. Mine's Not a High Horse
3. So Says I
4. Young Pilgrim
5. Saint Simon
6. Fighting in a Sack
7. Pink Bullets
8. Turn a Square
9. Gone for Good
10. Those to Come

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