The Shins “Heartworms” is a Mix of Past and Present

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The Shins took -another- hiatus the length of the average college education and it did some good this time.  The band’s auteur, James Mercer, is famous for abandoning a project and starting over when it heads in a direction that he doesn’t like. Most relevant example, his decision to fire all the members of The Shins except for himself (including his long-time music partner and friend Neal Langford, who he credits, in a 2012 interview with Spin.com, with helping him overcome shyness and getting him to play in a band). It seems cold, but could have been the right decision. During the original bands reign in the mid-2000s its claim to fame was movie soundtracks and being synonymous with Zack Braff.

The first album after the overhaul wasn’t promising. It was the product of collaboration with many other artists and resulted in a pop-rock-folk-explosion being pulled in a million different directions. But with the newest self-produced album “Heartworms” the 46-year-old artist seems to have found a cohesive sound. He took the best aspects of his side projects, The Shins past sound minus the folk, and brought it fully into the modern post-punk scene the band has been teetering on the edge of for so long. The early 2000s angry-puberty-stage-indie-rock is still present but, there is something more and the result is actually pretty good.

The stand outs are the single “Painting a Hole” and “So Now What.” Check out the whole album here.

You’re not supposed to judge a book (or an album in this case) by its cover but, the artwork is gorgeous. The piece is modern (florals are very in right now) and reminiscent of an old arcade game at the same time. The cover represents the album’s own mixing of old and new very well. The cover was designed by artist Jacob Escobedo, check out this article on the artwork’s inspiration.

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