ALBUM REVIEW: THE SHINS ‘THE WORM’S HEART’

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The Shins

The Shins have created a “flipped” version of their 2017 LP Heartworms, aptly named The Worm’s Heart. Defining “flipped”, several factors have been applied to the same songs from Heartworms beginning with reversing the entire track order. The songs retain the same lyrics yet evolve into something new with their tempo, melody, mood, and instruments, among other subtle aspects. No lyrics or structure of songs have been removed, therefore ‘remix’ does not seem an appropriate definition opposed to the band’s definition of ‘flipped’.

This technique was conceived while Heartworms was being written, as singer/songwriter James Mercer displays his lyrical acumen and talent on The Worm’s Heart. In conjunction with Heartworms, the skill of Mercer to create two distinct sets of songs with identical lyrics is an impressive feat.

“The Fear (Flipped)”, the former final track, kicks off The Worm’s Heart with a quicker tempo and 70s garage-rock feel opposed to the wispy-front-porch nostalgia of the original (which was one of the better Heartworms tracks). The title track “Heartworms” was a strong original track, as well. It carried a distinct ‘Classic Shins’ feel which has morphed into an 80s synth-pop tune in the ‘Flipped’ version.

“Half a Million (Flipped)” has become a quasi reggae tune with an occasional uptempo beat. “Mildenhall”, a personal favorite, has claimed that spot again as the reminiscent acoustic and Americana percussion have ceded way for a song that sounds right out of the 60s. “Mildenhall (Flipped)” achieves an astounding level of pure bliss, it’s a bit of a silly sounding melody and relative simplicity that easily recalls the days of classic rock in the late 50s and 60s. It is hard track to not listen to over and over, it has a catchy feel that is hard to let go of.

“Fantasy Island” on Heartworms truly captured the feel of a dream fantasy, with sounds that felt above the clouds. “Fantasy Island (Flipped)” has transformed into a classic sounding Shins tune which fits in beautifully given its place among many songs with new sounds for The Shins. The final track, “Name For You (Flipped)” has shifted from being one of the catchier tunes, to a dystopian rock feel that reminds of Yeasayer, a sound that occurs more than once throughout The Worm’s Heart.

This quasi double album of the same songs presented in a different fashion is a cool and unique idea. It is not simply a ‘remix album’ given that the same band performed both versions and that they had planned to do this while creating the first album, Heartworms. The Worm’s Heart improves on the 2017 LP, but not by a massive margin. However, that is not to say that the albums are so similar that an experience of The Worm’s Heart would be a fruitless endeavor. The two albums feel quite distinct, and only in a few occasional moments would one notice more than mild similarities between the two.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
The Shins - The Worm's Heart
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