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The Shins – So Now What

“Alex! Do you like The Shins?”

“Of course, one of the most influential bands of the decade.”

“Good, I need a feature article on the new Shins song, pronto!”

“Yes boss, I’ll start working on it after I get through deleting these auto-replies.”

“I’d better see that feature on my desk by 5pm. Make a big deal outta this one too!”

“Yes boss!”*

the shins

The Shins’ new single So Now What, is set to appear on Zach Braff’s new shamelessly quirky motion picture Wish I Was Here, coming to US cinemas around July. If we’re lucky, we might even get it in Australia someday.

Oh jeez, The Shins. They’re a pretty big band from overseas aren’t they? A bit of an odd move from Happy, but hey, let’s do it, they’re a pretty iconic band. Did I just call them iconic? Ew, I’d better not accidentally put that in the article. I haven’t heard these guys in a long time, maybe I can talk about that main guy – I hear he’s up to some crazy stuff these days.

Alright let’s get reacquainted. They had that one song called Charms… something about Charms. The Charmer?, The Charming Guy? Oh what am I doing trying to use my brain, good old Wikipedia will have what I’m looking for! God bless our melted Gen Y brains.

Oh, wait, this is weird. Okay, I don’t remember Morrissey having a beard… and I’m pretty sure the band were popular in the 80’s, so they can’t have formed in 1996. I don’t see Meat Is Murder listed on their discography either. How can a wikipedia article be this wrong? Or is it me that’s wrong? Oh no, you know who I’m thinking of…

Shit. I gotta get a feature article in by the end of the day on this band I don’t know jack about… I guess I should hit up the song, yeah that’s a good place to start.

Jeez, it really jumps straight in there doesn’t it. Hmm, acoustic guitar. A little bit of a whiny voice. Pretty la… oh this is an ad. Get outta here Bob Evans, nobody wants to give your song a second chance. Why can’t I skip this? Fifteen seconds bullsh… Here we go – So Now What by The Shins.

“I had this crazy idea”


Somehow we cruise to the end”

Such a soft, rounded voice. I’m surprised it’s cutting so nicely through those instrumentals. Speaking of which, that’s a tasty guitar in there. I really want to use the word jangle for that acoustic-sounding rhythm… chiming? hoopy? chorusy? I’ll figure something out. Is that some keys in there as well? Mmmhmm, nice arps. Solid.

US indie-charmers The Shins return in 2014 with a new yet familiar sound, not too far flung from the acoustic grandeur of their previous successes. A hoopy, falsetto laden track, this first single revisits a lot of the atmosphere that led us to so easily fall in love with James Mercer’s songwriting all those years ago.

That’s okay right? Chances are they used to have some acoustic songs – it was the 00’s after all. Death Cab For Cutie, The Decemberists and all that jazz. It almost sounds like I know what I’m talking about here. Indie music practically writes about itself. Throw in some references to Arcade Fire and The Postal Service and this’ll be done in a few minutes. Bam!

“Oh girl, it’s been a while”

Oh girl? Oh boy. What a cliche.

Since we met, out there in the cold

Hah, out in the cold. Pretty appropriate on a winters day like today. Look at all those suckers out there on the street, hopelessly rubbing their hands together. Walking around with their heads to the ground. This song is so appropriate for this whole scene – all these black jackets, craving the sunshine. If I was a movie director I’d definitely use The Shins in a soundtrack or something. Oh man, I could totally see this on the soundtrack to one of those quirky indie rom-coms from the mid 00’s, like Garden State or something. Still gotta get around to watching that movie…

As if to cast a musical net that transcends concepts of latitude and global seasonal tilt, The Shins have crafted a piece of shimmering production that sounds equally at home on the highways and private pools of So-Cal and the current, much more drab situation of the weather here in the antipodes.

Man, that’s gotta be the hundredth time I’ve used the word Antipodes. I should get one of our interns to trawl through my shit talking.

While lyrically concerning something like a breakup, there’s something musically industrious about it, as if to defy the idea and the imagery of a relationship split. We see a breakup as something destructive, oft using the metaphor of ‘crumbling’ or indeed ‘breaking’. Perhaps it’s the sheer thickness of the song, leaving its sonic sediment over you as it washes over you, or perhaps it’s the convex structure, the sunshiney brilliance of the instruments which makes me picture skyscrapers, factories and speeding traffic.

Now it sounds like I know about relationships and girl things too! Man, this is gonna be the best. Let’s wrap this bad boy up and send it off to the boss man upstairs.

If there’s one thing The Shins know how to do, it’s showing off a crafting and a true understanding of music. They’re a band not content to rely on influences, nor on the sounds of their own recent past, instead creating something uniquely Shinsy. You can preorder the single from their website or iTunes below, due to be released in mid-July on a compilation with Paul Simon, Bon Iver and our boy Japanese Wallpaper.

Done, and done. With time to spare as well! Better print all this out and get this wrapped up and into the pneumatic tube system. Man, we really gotta update this office hardware, maybe get a fax machine or something.

*the key here Alex is that I let you feel like you have control. It works almost perfectly for both of us.




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July 1, 2014

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