The Shins release new track, "Simple Song," and reveal new album plans
The pensive, relaxed number is lead by Mercer's mellifluous vocals and his penchant to build towards big choruses, along with some surprising guitar and keyboard flourishes. It's doesn't represent a new direction or style for the Shins, but after Mercer's Broken Bells experiment with Danger Mouse (as well as his backup vocal turns for Modest Mouse), it's nice to hear James in the forefront musically once again.
Mercer has announced a small handful of live shows for the Shins on the West Coast (including a slot at Coachella), but there is no news yet on a full-scale U.S. tour. But, given the spotty live shows I've seen from the Shins over the years, they have always been better on album than on stage for me. Their music loses a bit of its impact and resonance in a live setting, and, not to go all Natalie Portman on you, I've always preferred to listen to their music on a nice pair of headphones or on the warm, familiar comfort of my own home stereo.
Regardless, for those of us who have grown attached to the music of the Shins over the years, it's good to know that Mercer and company are indeed recording again, and I for one can't wait to hear the results. Port Of Morrow is available to pre-order now, including a deluxe-package that features the album on 1/4" reel-to-reel track tape, which is a nice, albeit slightly unwieldy option to have for music purists. I'll just stick to the vinyl, thank you very much.