To put it simply, this album is the definition of mediocre. It embodies every reason why Hip Hop is absolutely ruling in the charts while Indie Rock lurks on the sidelines. The Shins, a seasoned band who have been around for almost two decades, with many acclaimed albums under their belt, have released a huge dud. Heartworms, The Shins’ fifth studio album attempts to escape their boring indie reputation to make an album that screams “different”. However, the result is a bunch of poorly written and flimsy songs that disappoint fans and make new listeners snore. No longer the “Starbucks band” anymore, thinks James Mercer, the main brain behind the band. He believes that dishing out half assed tracks with warped guitars can mean he can label it psychedelic and call it a day. The problem is, he isn’t even trying anything adventurous or out of his comfort zone. This is like saying that Future’s Future is his most experimental album yet. It’s just more of the same. From the opener, “Name For You”, the confliction of whether this record wants to be different or not is evident right away. The great drums and harmonized vocals make the song feel fresh, but the weak chorus and stuttering guitar weigh down the song entirely. The second track “Painting A Hole” is the prime example of the fake psych rock that is splattered throughout this record. Wormy and loose guitars with distortion and little to no arrangement does not make your song trippy, James. Although most of the album is a completely snoozer, like Midenhall, with the corniest lyrics imaginable over an acoustic guitar, there are a few gems. The song “Cherry Hearts” is an irresistible track with bouncy drums and summery, boyish vocals, eerily similar to that of Animal Collective’s Painting With. The song is proof that The Shins have the ability to craft an adventurous song without resorting to an Indie cliche. Another song that reaches out of James’ usual comfort zone is “Dead Alive”, the leading single. It’s a focused and well arranged song with an insanely catchy instrumental. However, these decent songs do not make up for the shortcomings of the rest of the record. After trudging through the rest of the clumsy and obtuse tracklist, the album closes with “The Fear”, which is easily one of the most underwhelming endings I have seen in anything since Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. James Mercer strains his voice and acts extremely emotional as violins go off in the background, giving the listener false moments of sadness. The moody, downstroke guitars and unforgivable lyrics stoop the song to the level of a Folger’s coffee commercial. Not one of The Shins’ brightest moments, but there were enough gems in here to peak my intrest to see what’s to come.

 

4/10