The Shins, Port of Morrow
Regardless of how you may feel about The Shins, odds are good that you at least know who they are. They’re one of those bands that I feel became popular because of Zach Braff, who really is somebody that I wouldn’t go to for music advice.
I recall seeing Braff on Jimmy Kimmel once (back when I watched Kimmel all the time), and Jimmy Kimmel made him name a band that he didn’t like. Braff was sort of hesitant, as if he couldn’t think of someone, and then he started to describe a band that wore masks. I immediately thought that he meant Slipknot, but then someone in the crowd said Gwar, and he just went with it.
It’s not that I ever really valued Zach Braff’s opinion on music (or anything for that matter), but when I saw him struggle and compromise that night many years ago on Jimmy Kimmel Live, I gave up hope on him being a reliable source for, well, anything.
What The Shins prove to me, then, as a band, is simply that if your music is good, then it is good whether or not Zach Braff gives you his meaningless stamp of approval.
Many years from now, when people look back at the music being released now, Port of Morrow may just seem like another successive album from The Shins. It, however, is not just that. I want to say that The Shins were on a break before this album came out, but it was more like an indefinite hiatus. While people will merely pass this off as “the new Shins release,” in a lot of ways, this album wasn’t supposed to happen.
James Mercer had made a successful solo album under the name of Broken Bells. He could have stayed on that path or just formed a completely new band altogether, but instead he went back to The Shins, and now we have Port of Morrow.
Evidence of his journey to here comes in the third song, with such lines as, “It doesn’t have to be so dark and lonesome,” possibly referring from Mercer going from solo back to band, and, “But did you really think I’d shut an open door?”, which goes with the notion that The Shins never had a Guns ‘N Roses-type breakup.
These are all really just fantastic songs from The Shins, and I feel like it is their best work to date.