#43 The Shins – “Heartworms” – 52 Weeks of 2017 Albums

Indie guitar rock gods The Shins are no more. It’s been 10 years since group founder James Mercer rid himself of longtime bandmates Dave Hernandez, Marty Crandall and Jesse Sandoval for “aesthetic” reasons (according to Sandoval he was “unequivocally fired”). Only the second Shins album since taking this singular approach to making music as a group of one (Mercer once famously explained “I always loved these auteurs who presented themselves as bands”) Heartworms finds Mercer travelling back to the ’80’s for an album of keyboard heavy synth-pop Howard Jones and She Blinded Me With Science Thomas Dolby would be proud of. After a strong opening the record falters ever so slightly only to find redemption on the second side where Mercer goes lighter on the layers of synth and heavier on the guitar based Shins of old. Shaky and uneven in spots Mercer’s firm grasp of classic pop, solid hooks and melodic structure help make Heartworms an adequate stopover between Mercer’s day job as The Shins and his more satisfying collaborations with Danger Mouse Brian Burton. Which begs the question, when is the new Broken Bells album out James?

Rating: 6.5/10

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