‘Port Of Morrow’ (Aural Apothecary/Columbia)
“Port Of Morrow contains all the industrial infrastructure you’ll need to grow your business,” reads the website. Though a barren building site in rural Oregon hardly seems soil for inspiration, nonetheless, the 12,000 acre patch lends its name to The Shins’ fourth album. Perhaps it’s representative of the fresh beginnings for the Mid-West act; from long-time members Marty Crandall and Jesse Sandoval leaving the band, to Mercer moving from Sub Pop to his own Aural Apothecary label via Columbia, The Shins have once more been under reconstruction. Swelling with nervous anticipation ‘The Rifle’s Spiral’ introduces a more immediate, glossier sound, before ‘Simple Song’ struts in with a regal fl ounce, Mercer’s swaggering delivery practically pouting across the verse. ‘No Way Down’’s side-slappin’ country croon is Ryan Adams at his most buoyant, whilst a woozy late-summer eve spellbindingly unfurls on ‘September’. Although this new-found sheen can occasionally come across as vacant, especially accompanied by Kindergarten kitsch lyrics like, “I guess it’s only life/It’s only natural/We all spend a little while going down the rabbit hole”. ‘Port Of Morrow’ is a glorious and confident return, even if it lacks a little darkness at times. Maybe the rabbit hole’s not such a bad place, eh Jim?