Latin Conference & Awards

Chutes Too Narrow

While no one would ever mistake the two bands, the Shins evoke early-day R.E.M.

While no one would ever mistake the two bands, the Shins evoke early-day R.E.M. The similarity is not so much in the sound—although both have an affinity for jangly pop music—as it is in the approach. Consider it the whole "little band that could" mystique. As was the case with R.E.M. then, the Shins have a penchant for creating music that favors an intimate, made-in-the-basement sound over the grandiose rock statement. If the Shins' 2001 set "Oh Inverted World" was its "Murmur," then the follow-up from the Albuquerque, N.M., quartet, the excellent "Chutes Too Narrow," is its "Reckoning." With the help of producer Phil Ek (Built to Spill), the band adds a more ragged flavor (lead single "So Says I," for example) to its sweet, intelligent brand of indie rock. While the gratification is not as immediate, the album is deeply rewarding upon repeated listens. This is particularly so on such tracks as the outstanding opener, "Kissing the Lipless."—BG