Fam­ily life helps with new sound

South Waikato News - - ENTERTAINMENT -

In­die-rock favourites The Shins are back with a new al­bum, a new line-up and a more up­beat sound that lead singer-song­writer James Mercer cred­its in part to his tran­quil fam­ily life.

It comes five years af­ter The Shins’ Gram­mynom­i­nated al­bum Winc­ing the Night Away en­tered the Bill­board 200 at num­ber two.

Mercer ad­mits he would love to snag the top spot this time.

‘‘I mean that will never go away,’’ the 41-yearold Port­land, Ore­gon, na­tive said. ‘‘A num­ber one record. You’re up there with the big­gest bands in his­tory. It’s just cool you know?’’

Be­tween al­bums, Mercer parted ways with the other orig­i­nal band mem­bers – drum­mer Jesse San­doval, key­boardist Marty Cran­dall and bas­sist Dave Her­nan­dez – and re­cruited a new team.

Port of Mor­row was pro­duced by Greg Kurstin, who also has worked with Kylie Minogue and Lily Allen. Although Cran­dall and Her­nan­dez guest on Port of Mor­row, they will not be tour­ing with their for­mer front­man, who de­fends the new line-up.

‘‘It’s not that these mu­si­cians are bet­ter – it’s that when you work with some­body new you get a whole new per­spec­tive on your song,’’ Mercer said. ‘‘I want to be free to work with a num­ber of peo­ple. I just think the songs ben­e­fit from it and that’s the most im­por­tant thing to me.’’

Mercer mar­ried for­mer jour­nal­ist Marisa Kula in Hawaii in 2006, af­ter she in­ter­viewed him for pop mu­sic mag­a­zine Spin. The pair have two young daugh­ters, Sabine and Odette, who di­rectly af­fected his writ­ing on Port of Mor­row.

The jubilant tone of lead sin­gle Sim­ple Song, for in­stance, is miles away from some of the more down­beat of­fer­ings on Winc­ing the Night Away, a col­lec­tion of songs writ­ten af­ter the band shot to fame thanks partly to their 2001 song New Slang be­ing fea­tured in the movie Gar­den State.

As the band took off, Mercer found his ‘‘so­cial sit­u­a­tion was up-ended,’’ pro­vid­ing good fuel for Winc­ing.

With the new al­bum, how­ever, ‘‘There’s a lot of just think­ing about love,’’ Mercer said.

‘‘Hav­ing chil­dren is some­thing that makes you think about the im­por­tance of love and re­la­tion­ships be­tween hu­mans and it also at the same time, the op­po­site of that – the wars and vi­o­lence be­come very poignant and dis­tress­ing, too.’’ stuff

NEW AL­BUM: In­die rock band The Shins.

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