The Shins

Record Reviews

Phases and Stages

The Shins

Chutes Too Narrow (Sub Pop) All my other CDs hate the Shins' second album. If this were the high school prom, Chutes Too Narrow would be the girl everyone hates -- or wishes they could hate but really can't because she's just so nice and pretty and smart. These 10 songs, which the Albuquerque-bred quartet recorded in guitarist/songwriter James Mercer's Portland, Ore., basement, are the smartest, loveliest songs in recent indie rock history. Chutes is a yearbook of Whitman-esque contradictions: Here's the lonely, embittered young poet ("Kissing the Lipless"); snotty punk ("So Says I"); Kinks fan ("Turn a Square"); and the weirdo who wants to be a cowboy and pulls it off ("Gone for Good"). The album does indeed contain multitudes, which is what makes it such a balanced and beautiful listen. Every emotion is intense and genuine, and the musicianship is just as moving as Mercer's lyrics, from the pedal steel to Marty Crandall's goofy keys. And as anyone who witnessed the group's ACL Festival set can attest, this is a group that lives to make this music, and it's this purity of passion that helps the songs resonate and makes them the perfect prom date.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Review: Holy Wave, <i>Five of Cups</i>
Review: Holy Wave, Five of Cups
Five of Cups (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 1, 2023

Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, <i>Emergency Leisure</i>
Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, Emergency Leisure
Emergency Leisure (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Aug. 4, 2023

More by Melanie Haupt
Restaurant Review: Mexta
Restaurant Review: Mexta
Mexta wants to be Austin’s new upscale Mexican dining destination

July 5, 2024

Restaurant Review: Bambino
Restaurant Review: Bambino
New Eastside pizza joint from L’Oca d’Oro owners has something to say

June 7, 2024

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle