Newest Review: ... some gems, including what they are now known for; "New Slang" and opener "Caring is Creepy". Both these were feat... more
Oh Enjoyable Album
Oh, Inverted World - The Shins
Member Name: charby
Oh, Inverted World - The Shins
Advantages: Great album, great tracks
Disadvantages: Weird Divide doesn't fit
Since I've been revising for exams recently, I've been trying to watch less TV to stop myself getting distracted. I've therefore started listening to more music as I find that I can easily listen to familiar music while I revise and don't find it impedes my revision. Since I listen to music pretty often anyway, an increase in my listening habits unfortunately meant that I was starting to get bored of a lot of my iTunes library, and found myself unable to settle on an album and kept skipping songs when it was on random. I asked my boyfriend if he could recommend me anything and he suggested The Shin's new album, as I really used to like the band and they've just recently released another CD. That's when I realised that I actually handed added one of their previous albums to my new laptop after my last one broke and so hadn't heard it in a while. One of these was 'Oh Inverted World', which I remember I used to love around four or five years ago, and so I quickly re-added it to my computer and to my life.
The Shins are an American, indie rock band from New Mexico. James Mercer (vocals and guitar) was formally in a band called Flake Music, who I am not familiar with, but they released a few singles and an album, and toured largely due to the help of band Modest Mouse (who I am a great fan of). Flake Music broke up in 1996 and so The Shins became Mercer's primary band, but their first album, 'Oh Inverted World', was not released until 2001. Since then they have had three further albums, 'Chutes Too Narrow' (2003), 'Wincing the Night Away' (2007) and 'Ports of Morrow' (2012). Their most recent single ('Simple Song)' is one that I have heard quite a lot, but I wouldn't be surprised if most of you hadn't heard of it. Despite being a great band, they haven't experienced much chart success in the UK, with their highest spot in the singles chart being at 42 for their 2006 single, 'Phantom Limb'. That said, I know a few people who own and really like one or more of their albums, so it would appear that they're more of an album band than a one that has high selling singles.
Oh Inverted World
As I've said earlier, this is The Shins' debut album and was released in 2001. I first became a fan of the band and this album in around 2007/8 when my boyfriend introduced me to them. I very quickly fell in love with their alternative music style, and found that the songs on this album were a great mix between the slow and relaxing and the more upbeat.
The opening track, Caring is Creepy, is a brilliant one to open an album with. While not being particularly fast or particularly slow, it has a great yet relaxed happy feel to it and I always smile a bit when I listen to it. Other songs I particularly enjoy on the album include: New Slang, which is more relaxed and a bit more acoustic, and was their first single; The Celibate Life, which has a great, chilled tune; and Girl Inform Me, which has some of my favourite lyrics and rhythm of vocals on the album. That said, I couldn't pick out any songs on the album that I don't like and in fact greatly enjoy them all. One thing I've noticed from the three albums I know well (this, 'Chutes Too Narrow' and 'Wincing the Night Away') is that they always end their albums very well, and the final track always gives me the feeling that it's concluding something. This album's eleventh and last track, The Past and Pending, certainly makes a lovely ending to 'Oh Inverted World', although it is a lot more sombre in tone and a lot slower than many of the other tracks on the album.
As well as all being good tracks on their own, the songs on 'Oh Inverted World' complement each other well, making this a good all round album. That is, all apart from the third track, Weird Divide. While this is a brilliant song in itself, I'm not sure how much it really belongs on this album. It's serene, quiet style and vocals mean that it doesn't really fit in with the other tracks that surround it, although I do greatly enjoy listening to it on its own.
I have no criticisms to make of the band. All the instruments are played well and I particularly like Mercer's vocals, which fit the style of the music well. This album is also consistent with their later works and I don't believe that it's noticeably better or worse as a whole then their later three albums, although I have to say that many of my favourite tracks do in fact come from 'Chutes Too Narrow' and 'Wincing the Night Away'. That is, however, probably largely down to me having those other two albums on my laptop for the past two years, and so their songs are more familiar to me, while I hadn't heard 'Oh Inverted World' in quite some time. The blue album cover (which you can see above) is also nicely designed and I'd be happy to display it if I had a place to do such a thing.
'Oh Inverted World' is a great album and I'm very happy that I started listening to it again. At £5.49 for a physical copy (Amazon) or £5.99 to download (iTunes), it's really good value in my view for eleven great tracks. If you're not familiar with the band, however, I'd recommend giving them a listen on Youtube or elsewhere before spending your money to check that you do like them. This album, and the two that follow it, come highly recommended by me, and you can expect reviews of other The Shins albums in the near future.
* "Caring Is Creepy" - 3:19
* "One By One All Day" - 4:08
* "Weird Divide" - 1:57
* "Know Your Onion!" - 2:28
* "Girl Inform Me" - 2:19
* "New Slang" - 3:49
* "The Celibate Life" - 1:49
* "Girl on the Wing" - 2:48
* "Your Algebra" - 2:22
* "Pressed in a Book" - 2:54
* "The Past and Pending" - 5:21
Summary: A great debut album from The Shins