The Shins have evolved quite a bit over the past few years. Five years ago, they released Port of Morrow in which time the band had been going through a roundabout change of members. It got to the point where James Mercer remained the only original member, carrying on the namesake. In Heartworms, James Mercer remains the sole member of the original band, and went on to write and produce the entire fifth album. With this knowledge in mind, it’s really interesting to see the carried over themes from his earlier work and his dedication to staying true to the original sound. The music is reflective of the changes in Mercer’s life as he looks back on his life with the new perspective of parenthood and past collaborations.
Starting off the album, “Name for You” is considered by Mercer as a hopeful dedication to empower his daughters. It’s a matter of acknowledging the things said to and about women and chalking it all up to as the lyrics go, “what’s in a name?” It’s facing the things said about you and disregarding them in the hopes of staying true to your goals, ambitions, and ultimately your identity. Musically, the song is solid and very reminiscent of their Wincing the Night Away era.
Other songs, such as “Cherry Hearts” and “So Now What” are fascinating entries into the new album, showing off some more technological or psychedelic beats reminiscent of Mercer’s side project, Broken Bells. It’s a warm welcome into the atmosphere of the album and shows that the capabilities of The Shins are not limited to past works, but can still be renewed through more nuanced musical differences. “Mildenhall” while not safe for radio play, is an excellent show of how an introduction of a more acoustic and country-twinged song can still work and pull of the desired mood of the album.
Overall, I believe The Shins blew it out of the water in terms of versatility and ability. Heartworms is an excellent entry that was long awaited by the music community and was a well-deserved wait.
Recommended If You Like: Broken Bells, Local Natives, Spoon
Recommended Tracks: 1(Name for You), 3 (Cherry Hearts), 10 (So Now What)
Do Not Play: 5 (Mildenhall), 6 (Rubber Ballz)
Written by Savannah Adams on 04/04/2017