More Pop, less Sub from The Shins

By Myke Atkinson

There was a time when bell-bottoms, The Smiths and The Replacements ruled the world. Just as bell-bottoms have come back as "flared" pants, the sound of retro has been reborn through The Shins.

June 19 saw the release of The Shins major-label debut titled Oh Inverted World. The disc is 11 tracks of old school pop that forces your head to bounce. You can definitely hear influences such as The Cure or Suede coming through on tracks like the absolutely delicious "Girl Inform Me."

"I loved Echo and the Bunny Man a lot and tried to get the record to sound like Ocean Rain," says lead singer James Mercer about his influences. "I know it doesn’t sound anything like that."

Mercer wrote all of the songs on the disc, jamming them out with the other members so they could write their parts. The songs were then recorded at his home studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mercer wouldn’t have it any other way.

"The way my head works, it’s such a benefit to wake up at three in the morning and go over to the computer and start recording," says Mercer.

The Shins stake their camp under the little label that did, Sub Pop Records. But those diehard Nirvana fans should not expect another Bleach from the label. The Shins fit with the label’s new we-could-drop-the-Sub-from-our-name sound, taking indie in a whole new direction.

"Everybody asks about Sub Pop, expecting we’ll say ‘Oh it’s horrible’ or something, but it’s been nice," says Mercer.

The band started out as a four-track recording side project, and touring was not originally their main focus. But now, The Shins are rearing to go as they leave for the second leg of their tour, opening for Preston School of Industry. After having a taste of joys of touring with acts such as Modest Mouse, the band hopes to tour Europe in the coming year.

"We’re gonna do this one month thing, and then we’re going to relax for four months and try to write and record some new material," says Mercer. Fans can expect a new full length album by next fall.

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