It wasn’t until I saw these guys at The Bowery on the Chutes Too Narrow tour that I realized that this was basically a solo project for James Mercer. The band itself was fine, but it was very clear that these were his songs and this was his sound and -- though I am sure I overstating this -- it felt like the band was just there to support him, not necessarily to collaborate with him. They released one more album, Wincing The Night Away, on which “Phantom Linb appears, after Chutes Too Narrow and then Mercer called it a day and now is working on a new album with -- who else? – Dangermouse.
The “breakup” of The Shins has been memorialized in a long, rambling, and very interesting interview with the drummer, Jesse Sandoval, which you can read here.
Anyway, Mercer is master pop craftsman and clearly one of the best in the business at what he does. His albums are all perfectly conceived and sequenced, filled with awesome nuggets and not a song or even a part of a song is wasted. For what he’s doing, his albums are close to perfect. They might not change your life, but The Shins are / were a tremendous studio band in their day. Check it out.