The Shins have been one of my favorite bands since I was a freshman in college. My roommate used to play Wincing the Night Away while we were hanging around our room, and I was quickly asking, “Who sings this?” The rest is history. Many people became familiar with The Shins through the movie Garden State, in which Natalie Portman’s character is a fan. Two songs from their first album are featured on the soundtrack. I myself am a loyalist to Chutes Too Narrow, their second album, which is still heavily featured in my car music rotation. So imagine yourself in a dreary dorm room, if you like, and have a taste of The Shins.
1. “New Slang”
If you’ve only heard one Shins song, it’s probably “New Slang.” This is the song that Natalie Portman plays for Zach Braff on her enormous headphones. Not exactly a surprising choice, but really, there’s no better introduction than this. The hypnotic opening, the effortless vocals, the lyrics that don’t quite make sense. Everything about it is addictive.
2. “Kissing The Lipless”
The first track on my beloved Chutes Too Narrow, “Kissing The Lipless” is my favorite example of The Shins just rocking out. They create such beautiful melodies, but they can also make you want to scream along. “Your ailing heart and your criminal eyes”? That line is so good, I want to write a novel for the sole purpose of stealing it as a title.
3. “Phantom Limb”
Wincing the Night Away, the band’s third album, couples the airy mood of their first album with the increased production of the second. “Phantom Limb” exemplifies this fusion nicely. Even though I can’t always understand the literal message of their songs, I feel an emotional connection that can’t be denied. I hope it makes you feel that connection as well, or at least inspires you to do some dorky hippie dancing.