It's been almost five years since The Shins released "Wincing the Night Away" an album that took them to the pinnacle of success and established James Mercer as one of America's premier songwriters and vocalists. "Wincing the Night Away", was recorded and produced in Portland during 2006 by James Mercer with little input from then fellow band members Marty Crandall , Jesse Sandoval & Dave Hernandez.
Released on January 23, 2007, it went on to become the best selling album ever for the Sub Pop label. It was also nominated for a 2008 Grammy award in the Best Alternative Music Album category. However, once the album came out, James was quoted as saying that he felt overwhelming pressure while composing and arranging the album tracks (hence the title) He also hinted in interviews of his weariness at having to carry the creative load for the band.
Changes were afoot and for local fans of The Shins, the subsequent moves made by James were disheartening. He first dismissed Marty and Jesse, with Dave taking his leave later. The Shins created and nurtured in Albuquerque had been purged of local musicians. James had derailed the Shins to pursue his own career, which took the shape of a collaborative project with Danger Mouse.
Broken Bells, as the side project came to be known, produced an album and one ep. What it failed to produce was a Cee Lo Green type monster hit. Broken Bells did however kill whatever momentum The Shins once had going for them. Which may have been the desired effect that James was after. The band's upcoming album "Port of Morrow" seemingly was recorded with far fewer nights spent agonizing at the mixing boards.
Port Of Morrow is due for release in March of this year (2012) on Mercer's own Aural Apothecary label, which is distributed by Columbia Records. There's also a North American tour in the books, the roster for the touring band consists of Mercer, Richard Swift, Joe Plummer, Yuuki Matthews and Jessica Dobson. This is also the same line-up listed in Wikipedia for the band. No word on what happened with Neal Langford, Mikael Yeung, Eric Johnson or Ron Lewis.
Lowered expectations equals lower stress levels, but the world is much different now than it was in 2007. In an ever changing musical landscape dominated by dub step and auto tuned madness, The Shins are nothing more than an after thought. I fear that "Port of Morrow" will set sail and slowly sink in the murky waters of apathy. With James the only remaining member with an Albuquerque connection, should we really give a fuck anymore?