BY VICTORIA MIDDLETON// Essential indie-rock project The Shins will be performing at The Anthem Thursday night as part of small tour in support of their most recent album Heartworms.
The Shins are far from newcomers. The group formed in 1996 as a side-project for frontman James Mercer, who, at the time, was the singer and guitarist for Flake. The group got their start touring with the iconic 90s indie rock group Modest Mouse and released their first album Oh, Inverted World in 2001. This album establishes the bands distinctive sound, characterized by whimsical lyrics and evocatively playful melodies. Their second LP Chutes Too Narrow was released in 2003.
The Shins secured their place as indie staples when their very first single “New Slang” was featured in the film Garden State in 2004. In one scene Natalie Portman’s character claims the track “will change for your life.” This moment certainly changed The Shins’ lives, as the songs cameo brought them heightened success. The band’s third LP Wincing the Night Away, released in 2007, peaked at number 2 on the charts. A poignant and fanciful concept album following a young boy through an adventurous odyssey, tracks such as “Sleeping Lessons,” “Australia,” “Phantom Limb,” and “Turn on Me” show The Shins at their peak.
Mercer, the frontman and sole lyricist of The Shins, is also know for his side project Broken Bells, a collaboration with producer Danger Mouse. Before releasing The Shins’ fourth LP Port of Morrow in 2012, Mercer disconnected himself from other members of the band, turning The Shins into a one man project.
Heartworms, released early this year, is The Shins first album since Port of Morrow. While Port was a departure for The Shins, Heartworms brings the project back to its roots. It shares the same whimsy and warm palette that define the first three albums, creating a sweet sense of nostalgia for those who have followed the band for nearly two decades.
Those who attend Thursdays show will be in the company of one of the defining indie-rock groups of the twentieth century so far. In preparation I recommend listening to old favorites, like “Caring is Creepy” and “The Past and Pending,” newer loves like “So Now What,” and, of course, buying tickets before it’s too late.