After teasing a bit of new music in April, the Shins confirm that a new album is on the way. Singer James Mercer appeared on KBOO FM in Portland, where he said “I’m really excited about this record. I think we’ve got something that Shins fans will really love, and I think there are some things on there that are different enough.”
“Busy lately, got the record done,” Mercer told the station, saying the effort is mixed and ready to go, but that their label would like to hold it until next year to set it up. “It looks like it will be coming out early next year… January.” Mercer said he began working alone on the songs more than a year ago, honing them mostly on his own, with some string parts recorded in Nashville by guitarist Mark Watrous. (Interview begins around the 21:20 mark.)
Mercer described beginning the sessions around two years ago after finishing the Broken Bells tour, sitting at the kitchen table with some coffee early in the morning, coming up with “30 different concepts” for songs and then just messing around in the studio to see what he could come up with. “Just starting to get the concepts down and jumping around from song to song, there were just a ton of ideas I was laying down,” he said. When it go to a point where it felt the songs were coming together, Mercer said he brought in drummer Joe Plummer to play percussion.
“I made a concerted effort on some songs to fit the palette, to use the palette that I’ve historically used for the band,” he said, comparing the sounds to their first three albums and a bit less poppy than 2012’s Greg Kurstin-produced Port of Morrow. “I think it’s really strong. Lyrically, I think I’m better than I ever was, and I think my songwriting is better than it ever was.”
There has clearly been some studio activity, as evidenced by some recent Instagram pics of the band’s members working on tracks.
April’s sneak peek of previously unheard music was the first taste of new sounds from the group since “So What Now,” written for the 2014 Zac Braff movie Wish I Was Here.