Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

The Shins 

Oh, Inverted World (Sub Pop)

This is the kind of album you can listen to for days on end. Admittedly, these boys from Albuquerque have a way with a melody that sticks like a Mars Bar to your pants. There's a lot of that sunshiny Beach Boys atmosphere that's bound to draw comparisons to Pet Sounds as well as the first two Big Star albums. But with its swirling keyboard textures and buoyant lust for life, Oh, Inverted World, the band's full-length debut, reeks of '80s etherealness, too. "One by One All Day," for example, comes straight from early R.E.M. But the Shins draw on influences far and wide to put together their semi-Rotarian crusade. There's a lot of that hazy, whimsical English-cottage ambiance. Check out the brilliant opening track, "Caring Is Creepy," for proof. Traffic, Genesis, and Thunderclap Newman come to mind.

Singer James Mercer, who also fronted the now-defunct Flake Music, sings in that same kind of delicate falsetto, but it's an effective tool, as are the band's rolling dreamscape atmospheres. Think of the Shins as a less lo-fi Minders, another band on the indie horizon that harks back to mid-'60s Brits. "Weird Divide" is ethereal on the level of something by the Kinks or the Who. "The Celibate Life" proves that Scottish alterna-popsters Belle & Sebastian have nothing on these boys. "Girl on the Wing," meanwhile, is pure new-wave/power-pop bliss. And "The Past and Pending" will make you pull out your Neil Young records. This is lovely, lovely stuff. Seriously, you gotta hear it.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

More by Joe S. Harrington

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 17, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Open Turntable Tuesday @ The Winchester

    • Tuesdays
  • Andrea Bocelli @ Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

    • Thu., Dec. 2
  • Kellen Erskine @ Hilarities Comedy Club

    • Thu., Dec. 2

© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation