Filed Under:

On 'Port Of Morrow,' The Shins Sail Back To The 1970s

James Mercer's distinctive voice and earnest songwriting have always been at the heart of The Shins, but these days they are the band's only constant. Port of Morrow, the group's new album and its first in five years, finds Mercer leading a completely new set of musicians.

"I think I needed to shake up my surroundings in order to get back to a state of mind where I was enthusiastic about recording, and fleshing out these songs that I had developing," Mercer says of changing The Shins' lineup. "I needed to have some new mode before I was prepared to start it up again."

Port Of Morrow incorporates a palette of vintage-inspired sounds that is new for the band. Mercer says those decisions arose in conversation with the record's producer, Greg Kurstin — who, like Mercer, spent part of his upbringing in Germany.

"We talked a lot about German bands from the '70s — Faust and Can, and some of the production work that Brian Eno did in Berlin at that time — that sort of aesthetic," Mercer says. "Greg spent time in Germany around the same time as I did, coincidentally. For me it was my favorite part of my childhood. ... Certainly in my mind it is conflated with the sounds of the records that came out then."

One such vintage element: a standout trumpet solo in the song "Fall Of '82," which could have been plucked straight from a classic Herb Alpert record.

"I really wanted a horn part there," Mercer says. "We were thinking about bands like Steely Dan and Chicago, the sort of classic pop of the '70s. I thought that'd be the perfect surprise instrumental break."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Aviator Beryl Markham Soars Again In 'Paris Wife' Author's New Book

"It is my fate to illuminate the lives of these one-of-a-kind notable women that have been somehow forgotten by history," says Paula McClain. She shines her spotlight on Markham in Circling the Sun.
NPR

At The Purple Pie Place, Where The Crusts Are Just Sweet Enough

Bobkat's Purple Pie Place is a fixture in Custer, S.D. From chicken pot pie to strawberry rhubarb, Trevor Yehlie and his family have been baking and serving pies at the local favorite since 2009.
NPR

SuperPACs Report Their Funds — And The Numbers Are Staggering

SuperPACs released their latest funding numbers Friday, and already it's clear that the committees' roles in 2016 will be gargantuan.
NPR

Despite Host Controversy, Amazon Takes A Chance On 'Top Gear'

The trio that made Top Gear the world's biggest car show will return to the small screen in a new show for Amazon Prime. The BBC canned one of its hosts last year after a fight with a producer.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.