29.) The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow (2003)
Please don't blame The Shins for Zach Braff's ill advised hyperbole. Here's the deal - The Shins probably won't change your life, unless your an adorably eccentric epileptic in her mid-twenties - but they'll sure as hell make it better.
The Shins' first record, Oh! Inverted World, was a good record. A fine record. A record worthy of faint praise and strategic placement of its songs in films. A nice record. Want to know a secret, though? Apart from the singles, I don't remember it. Chutes Too Narrow, on the other hand, I can recite line for line and lick for lick. It's a record I have consistently gone back to years after its release. I listen to it, in full, a few times a month and on the off chance that I'm going to be driving somewhere, it's a record I always take with me.
This is all about personal preference - there are scores of people, I'm sure, who never got past Oh! Inverted World. That's their choice. Those people, however, are missing out on Chutes Too Narrow, a record that takes all the good parts of O!IW and make them better.
The Shins, by default, are probably the band that made indie rock safe for mainstream tastes. Who cares? Chutes Too Narrow is such a pleasurable listening experience. It's the kind of indie rock record that nerds hear and say "if there was any justice in the world this would be a hit record" and it was and then everybody turned on them. That backlash stuff is stupid.
Anyway, stepping off my high horse for a moment - I love the Shins and their brand of indie pop. It sounds great, it's well done - almost seamless - but it's quite the contrary. It's a complex record both musically and lyrically that masquerades as the most instantly likable record you've ever heard. That's the joy of The Shins - a band destined to feel the pangs of a sophomore slump but who not only avoided it but spit in it's face.
Posted by Pat Driscoll