Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Only #1 to come after this, and if you've been paying attention, you should know whether or not to expect a newcomer or a repeat offender...

#2: The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow

While not as instantly catchy as their debut, Oh, Inverted World, The Shins' sophomore album is brilliant from start to finish. Most of the songs are more stripped down efforts than those on the debut record, but despite the simpler approach, Chutes Too Narrow presents itself as an eclectic mix of retro-pop inspired sounds.

"Kissing the Lipless" is a stunningly powerful album opener that starts off slowly, then kicks in like a four-barrel engine on a 70's muscle car, before fading out beautifully. "So Says I" is its equal on the power-pop scale and is probably the album's most radio-friendly song. "Young Pilgrims", "Saint Simon" and "Pink Bullets" slow the pace down a couple notches, but are equally, if not more, enjoyable. "Gone for Good" is one of this year's masterpieces, with its gorgeously lilting pedal steel set to James Mercer's vocals perfectly expressing the song's sad, but uplifting, theme of moving on.

If you liked Oh, Inverted World, I can't guarantee it, but you just might love Chutes Too Narrow.

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