The Shins

Introducing a new guitarist, keyboardist and drummer, the fifth album – and first in five years – from Portland’s indie darlings The Shins finds frontman and chief composer James Mercer still basking in warm melancholia. Nevertheless, it’s evident from the opening notes that this is an adventurous new version of the group, and one that is a little less happy-go-lucky. New-wave sensibilities envelop Mercer’s lush harmonies and wispy vocals, and there’s an electronic shift to the folksy indie pop. Adele producer Greg Kurstin added some spit and polish to 2012’s Port of Morrow, but Mercer has taken back control of the mixing desk, self producing for the first time since the group’s debut. Love, sadness and loneliness resonate throughout the 11 tracks but the tempo remains upbeat. “One of the wonderful things about music is that if you find the right song, you can basically turn something negative about yourself into something unique and glamorous,” says Mercer. And on Heartworms, there’s very little that could be considered negative.