Chutes Too Narrow

Chutes Too Narrow

4.5 21
by The Shins
     
 

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On the strength of their debut, Oh, Inverted World, the Shins went from indie rock underdogs to one of the style's most beloved bands, and deservedly so: it sounded fresh and timeless, universal and uniquely personal. In fact, it was so good that it may have raised expectations unfairly for their second album, especially since fans had to wait two and a half…  See more details below

Overview

On the strength of their debut, Oh, Inverted World, the Shins went from indie rock underdogs to one of the style's most beloved bands, and deservedly so: it sounded fresh and timeless, universal and uniquely personal. In fact, it was so good that it may have raised expectations unfairly for their second album, especially since fans had to wait two and a half years for Chutes Too Narrow. But if the band felt any external pressures while making the album, they must pale in comparison to the emotional pressures Chutes Too Narrow expresses. Restrictions and reversals abound in the Shins' music, from the names of their albums to their short-yet-circular songs and the often contradictory feelings they pack into them. They excel at sounding happy, sad, frustrated, and vulnerable at the same time, and their best songs, whether they're fast or slow, feel like they're bursting with nervous energy. The giddy, almost unearthly bittersweetness that made "Know Yr Onion!" and "New Slang" instant classics isn't immediately evident here; though their previous songs didn't travel obvious paths, Chutes Too Narrow's tracks are even more subtle and roundabout. "I know there is this side of me that wants to grab the yoke from the pilot and fly this whole mess into the sea," James Mercer sings on the winding "Young Pilgrims." Veering off course is a recurring theme on the album, and indeed, Chutes Too Narrow isn't exactly the follow-up to Oh, Inverted World that might have been expected. It's a leaner album -- at just over a half-hour long, there are no interludes or summery atmospheres here. Even the songs that recall Oh, Inverted World, such as the bouncy but brooding "So Says I" and "Mine's Not a High Horse" -- which, with its harmonies and hovering keyboards, is one of the most typically Shins songs on the album -- feel more understated. Understated doesn't mean underdeveloped, though; Chutes Too Narrow's breezy subtlety is less accessible than the Shins' debut, but that doesn't mean the album lacks great songs. Indeed, it begins with one of the best songs the Shins have written, "Kissing the Lipless." Largely acoustic with an intricate, shifting structure, the song builds up to unpredictable spikes of guitar and an amazing high note, forged out of pain and frustration, from Mercer when he sings "You told us of your new life there." The elaborately lovely, slightly spooky "Saint Simon" sounds like Nilsson backed by the Left Banke. "Turn a Square," meanwhile, is one of Chutes Too Narrow's rockier songs, a tangle of lust and nerves that features the great lyrics "Just a glimpse of an ankle and I/React like it's 1805." Mercer has always been a uniquely witty and affecting songwriter, but the simpler sound of this album really lets his gifts as a lyricist shine through (and also gives Chutes Too Narrow an occasionally singer/songwriterly feel). "You wanna fight for this love/But honey, you cannot wrestle a dove," he sings on "A Call to Apathy," a wonderfully twangy song that recalls both the Everly Brothers and Marshall Crenshaw; on "Pink Bullets" he takes the time to notice "The cool of a temperate breeze/From dark skies to wet grass" and "The scent of your skin and some foreign flowers." These carefully crafted words and melodies keep the listener wanting, and coming back for, more. Initially, Chutes Too Narrow might seem as light and fleeting as dandelion fluff or snow flurries blowing in the wind, but its direction promises even more good things from the Shins.

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Editorial Reviews

Rolling Stone - Barry Walters
The Shins make each minute matter without strain or lapsing into fake mellowness.
Blender - Mark Jenkins
The Shins' brisk indie-pop recalls the ebullience of mid-'60s rock while sounding entirely contemporary.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/21/2003
Label:
Sub Pop
UPC:
0098787062519
catalogNumber:
625

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Chutes Too Narrow 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i wonder why i'm the only person putting a review. but anyway, this cd is absolutley awesome. awesome. so just buy it. those samples are nothing compared to the real songs, they all have different parts to them and are just great.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'll join the above by saying this album is pretty darn good. The melody and arrangements of these songs is unique and great fun. The album is full of all sorts of feel from farfisa to lap steel, they just keep on surprising.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This CD is a pretty good blend of things from indiepop to folk rock (kind of) and it's really fun to listen to and dance around the room. I suggest buying it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
ok, the first time i listened to this album, i was like, this is pretty good...i like the radio hit "so says i" the best... BUT now that i have listened to it quite a few times more, i have realized how wonderful it really is. honestly, there are lots of layers and different textures and tempos and all of those good things that music geeks, like myself, love. So, bottom line: if you have any reservations about buying this album, lose them 'cause they're pointless. p.s. if another review for this album is above/below this one that's from me, my condolences because i really don't know if the other one went through.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Shins write out your exact feelings hiding in your heart without asking for your permission. And they do a damn good job. Their words describe your very thought and you feel stupid for not being that creative to actually say the same thing. They're genius. Long Live they're simple, complex lyrics.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I work at Barnes & Noble and we got this CD as an In-Store play. The first few times I heard it I thought it was ok but it didn't take long for me to be singing along. I can't even decide which song I like the best. They are all so friggin' great. I highly recommend this album. I didn't even know who The Shins were and now I'm a big fan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album has many different styles from almost 80s era keyboards to twangy country-style guitars. The entire album is great and I never skip past a song. Each song has it's own personality and is equally great. I definately recommend this!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have listened to a lot of music in my young life, and yet never heard anything quite like The Shins. Their sound is incredibly original, using delightfully simple melodies with incredibly clever lyrics. Every time I listen to Chutes Too Narrow, I get a feeling of intensely bittersweet love for life in all its complexity. Conveying everything from remorse to a feeling of pure joy with the same artfully modest eloquence, this album transcends generations. A timeless classic that will be heard by me and those around me for many years to come.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Chutes Too Narrow is a great album. All of the songs are really good and have uniqueness to them. Some of the songs, however, are dissapointing. But it is still worth it to buy. Also, if you like this album, The Shins other album, Oh, Inverted World is said to be really good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
"Chutes Too Narrow" is an awesome cd. If you liked "Oh Inverted World", then you are bound to love "Chutes Too Narrow." I even think its a better album than Oh Inverted World. Every song is amazing, there are no fillers on this cd. This cd makes me feel relaxed, even though the lyrics suggest that I probably shouldn't be. BUY THIS CD!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Shins are an absolute joy to listen to. The lovely guitars, sweet melodies, and the singer's joyful voice blend wonderfully. The words are really heartfelt, and it's impossible not to sing along. Among all these new bands that care mostly about money and not music, the Shins are a gem. They're so great I can't handle it. Ahhh!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album features wide variety of songs, most of which sound upbeat in nature, but have an underlying message of satire, which is awesome. Easy to listen to, once you get accustomed to the vocalist. Highly Recommended.
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