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The Shins | Oh, Inverted World (Sub Pop)
As I cycled home tonight, the temperature dipping below freezing, what little summer we did have seemed a very distant memory. It's at times like this you need a shot of Albuquerque's The Shins' breezy debut, all shimmering sixties hooks and GbV-esque brevity. 'Oh, Inverted World' starts brilliantly, the astonishing ebb and flow, lightness of touch and rippling keyboards of Caring is Creepy recalling the Chills, James Mercer's thin vocals - one of the band's real strengths - sounding otherworldly. It's almost impossible to maintain the momentum, though they give it a real go. The back-to-back salvo of Know Your Onion! and Girl Inform Me are bright and summery, hook-laden addictive pop songs. The folk waltz of New Slang, with its weird/catchy Simon and Garfunkel-style hummed chorus pushes Caring closest while Girl on the Wing is another great jangly guitar moment. These are all songs you will want to play again as soon as they're over and they comprise half of a great album. In that context the rest of the record is, well, OK; hard to fault, no duds, maybe slightly laboured, the melodies less infectious, but I'm willing to overlook it if I can hear Caring is Creepy one more time.

Stephen Raywood
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002

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