The Shins
Port of Morrow
Aural Apothecary/Columbia

Prior to the recording of Port of Morrow, The Shins’ James Mercer did histbest Axl Rose impersonation and booted everyone out of the band.  And while Port of Morrow didn’t take a decade to finish and didn’t require millions of dollars in backing, the resultstare just as disjointed as Rose’s comeback album, Chinese Democracy.

There’s the electro-pop of opening track, “The Rifle’s Spiral” and itstawkward stab at modernization that consiststof piling bleeps and keys and synths until, voila, future!  Chinese Democracy had lotstof that, too.  “Bait and Switch,” meanwhile, draws itstinspiration from French lounge music, not the original version mind you, but the dated, big-beat style  popular at the turn of the Century.   Were you anxiouslytawaiting the Fatboy Slim remix of “New Slang?”  Neither, was I.

In between, there’s a power ballad (“It’s OnlyOLife,”) more disco dalliances (“No Way Down,”) and the best single the band have released in years.  That’s right, on the album that is the indie rock equivalent of Chinese Democracy, Mercer got one song absolutelyOright.  “Simple Song,” successfully updates the earlyOpoundstof The Kinks, that careful, quiet, and wistfulOpound which so dominated The Shins debut record, Oh, Inverted World, with an expansive and delicate mix of ambient electronics, buoyant rhythms, and celebratory guitar melodies.  There’s three, maybe four decadestof pop in one track and not one elementOpoundstpushy or out of place.  If onlyOMercer had taken histown advice when it came to penning the rest of the album, and, you know, kept things a little simpler.  5 out of 10 on The Rockometer.

VIDEO: The Shins – Simple Song