KUMD Album Review: The Shins

Mar 29, 2017

Credit The Shins

Self-produced and recorded, James Mercer debuts his first album as the sole proprietor of The Shins. Purging the other band members in 2008 due to creative circumstance propelled Mercer to grudgingly throw himself into the limelight for Heartworms.

The album opens on an upbeat note or two with “Name For You,” an empowering song dedicated to his three daughters on finding their place in the world without losing their fire. “My girl, if you're lucky one day rolling down the ancient high street you'll find in the mirror reflects a woman in her prime. Can you make your way out?” The effortlessness of the composition is full of familiarity, like a lullaby he’s been singing to his girls since the day they came into his world.


“Mildnehall” takes a detour in Heartworms. The tightrope dance between pop and acid rock falls away to the stripped down country tale of Mercer’s youth growing up between various military bases in and out of the states. The music tapes, skateboards and guitar chords that created a world within a world detail how Mercer’s escapism started young and continues to thrive in his song writing. The success of The Shins’ first few albums won’t fall away with the stable groundwork Mercer continually lays out.

Heartworms ends on a completely different note from its start with “The Fear” an ode to anxiety. Mercer croons for a lover to bring him back down to Earth away from the toxic land he created in his head only to realize “you don’t recognize me anymore.” A sad conclusion that only he can pull himself out of his chemical hole in attempt to get back to himself, The Shins once again intertwining life’s rawness with simple, delicate chords.