The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow (20th Anniversary Remaster) (2023)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 33:44 minutes | 731 MB | Genre: Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Sub Pop Records
Truly accidental hits must be the hardest kinds of records to follow up. This is where many artists, great and not so great, have choked. For all their ubiquity in the early 2000s, the Shins really did make marvelous, smart pop music, but for Chutes Too Narrow, the follow-up to the Shins’ Oh, Inverted World, the band chose to simplify things, and to take their time in recording.
Where many bands would have opted to fly to L.A. and spend months in a giant studio now that they finally had the dough, Chutes was also mostly recorded in singer/songwriter/leaderJames Mercer’s newly-expanded home recording studio, with later mixing at Seattle’s Avast! with assistance from indie veteran Phil Ek. This was a clear back-to-their roots move; Mercer had made DIY records for years before the Shins with his Flake Music project and his comfort with this method of creating shows. The finished record was positively Beatles-length, at just a half an hour long. In the CD era, this was in itself a statement, and meant the songs had to rise to the occasion.
Chutes, which for its 20th anniversary has been remastered by Adam Ayan under Mercer’s careful supervision, was well received by fans and critics upon release. “Young Pilgrims” is such a standout track that it’s a surprise it didn’t resonate as strongly as “New Slang” did. The fast-as-heck “Fighting in a Sack” could have wound up on video game soundtracks. “Saint Simon” is exactly the kind of dense tune undergrads will always write lengthy papers about. And “Kissing the Lipless” is pure poetry. It will still work on a mixtape for a crush. “The gray remains of a friendship scarred”—damn. Mercer’s way with words continues to stun. Thankfully he also wrote delightful pop songs that stick inside your head for weeks at a time. – Mike McGonigal
1-1. The Shins – Kissing the Lipless (2023 Remaster) (03:18)
1-2. The Shins – Mine’s Not a High Horse (2023 Remaster) (03:19)
1-3. The Shins – So Says I (2023 Remaster) (02:48)
1-4. The Shins – Young Pilgrims (2023 Remaster) (02:47)
1-5. The Shins – Saint Simon (2023 Remaster) (04:24)
1-6. The Shins – Fighting in a Sack (2023 Remaster) (02:26)
1-7. The Shins – Pink Bullets (2023 Remaster) (03:52)
1-8. The Shins – Turn a Square (2023 Remaster) (03:10)
1-9. The Shins – Gone for Good (2023 Remaster) (03:12)
1-10. The Shins – Those to Come (2023 Remaster) (04:23)