The Shins

Columbia, 2017


REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler


It’s hard to believe this is only the Shins’ fifth album. James Mercer has come back with a very different and eclectic album that many fans might be a bit puzzled by. To say the least, it’s quite odd and a bit weird, but there’s still some gems here, you just have to be willing to do the digging.


Kicking things off, “Name For You” is an upbeat pop song, the type that wouldn’t sound out of place on pop radio stations currently playing Coldplay, the Chainsmokers or Lorde. “Painting A Hole,” on the other hand, is a great indie track, one of the most surprisingly good songs I’ve heard in a while. It has the same type of energy as “Simple Song” and is just a nice toe tapper.

About halfway through is when things start to go a bit sideways and make the average listener like myself a bit disconcerted. “Mildenhall” is one of those weird electro songs that have been extremely popular lately. Maybe Mercer started making a Broken Bells record and then quit halfway through to make some more Shins and this got mixed in with the rest of the material. “Cherry Hearts” is another techno wannabe track, sounding and feeling a bit like its leftover from around 1997, just very odd and off-putting. On the other hand, “Half A Million” is a quirky-good little rocker that sounds like a synth track from 1982, back when pop music like this was at least acceptable.

Mercer and company roar back to life on “Dead Alive,” one of the few tracks here that feels like old Shins, just updated for a modern audience that may not remember “New Slang” or “Phantom Limb.” The title track is another interesting little number but just isn’t that exciting or rewarding and drags on a bit too long as well.

Fortunately, they saved the best for last. “The Fear” is really strong and a great way to end a record. The whole song feels very cool and mellow, the type of song great for the morning after a night on the town. As a whole, Heartworms is woefully subpar, but there are great things here waiting to be discovered.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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