The Shins feel more like a studio
project than ever on their fourth album. You might even catch a glimmer of Steely Dan in "Fall of '82." In
itself that meticulousness is not a bad thing. Like bandleader James Mercer,
producer Greg Kurstin has shown a consistent appreciation for refined songcraft
and inventive arrangements, and the pair furnish these 10 originals with baroque
touches: brass, organ, bells. Perhaps too many. For every standout like the
joyous "Simple Song," there's another undercut by bells and whistles: "No Way
Down" sounds like it was recorded in an aviary during mating season. - K.B.R.