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Chutes Too Narrow
The Shins
Chutes Too Narrow
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (10) - Disc #1

Chutes Too Narrow, The Shins heavily anticipated follow-up (to Oh, Inverted World), was recorded in (singer/songwriter) James Mercer's basement home studio, with later mixing assistance from Phil Ek. And, with 10 songs,...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: The Shins
Title: Chutes Too Narrow
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 4
Label: Sub Pop
Original Release Date: 1/1/2003
Re-Release Date: 10/21/2003
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Style: Indie & Lo-Fi
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 098787062526


Album Description
Chutes Too Narrow, The Shins heavily anticipated follow-up (to Oh, Inverted World), was recorded in (singer/songwriter) James Mercer's basement home studio, with later mixing assistance from Phil Ek. And, with 10 songs, clocking in at just over 30 minutes, the new record is a brief yet entirely scintillating glimpse at chiming, reflective and perfectly skewed pop innovation.

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CD Reviews

Who says acoustic rock can't rock?,
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 01/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Most of the associations I have of acoustic rock are not good. To put it bluntly, most acoustic rock doesn't rock. The Shins is not a purely acoustic band; they often and usually employ electric guitars on their songs. But I think this can be labeled an acoustic rock band because almost every song is primarily built around acoustic guitars and is always way to the forefront in the mix. And unlike most acoustic bands, these guys flat out rock. This is one of those albums where every song is so outstanding that it nearly kills you when a song comes to an end. Luckily, the one that follows is almost always just as good, again invoking a sense of dissatisfaction as each ensuing song comes to an end.

Although I don't dislike a single cut on the album, several especially grab me. I love the energy and driving force of "So Says I," which is one of the more "plugged" cuts on the album. I'm equally taken by a beautiful low-fi number "Saint Simon," that sounds like it could come out of the 1960s, a sort of blend of Love and the Kinks. Another song I have trouble getting past (because I keep hitting the replay button) is "Turn a Square," which just grabs me every time I listen to and won't let go of me. I could add the first cut on the album, "Kissing the Lipless," but really, I like every song on the album.

I do not know The Shins' earlier album, OH, INVERTED WORLD, but I have been both delighted and shocked that many fans of that album are disappointed in this one. I'm shocked because I have trouble getting over how good this one is, and delighted because it means that there another great Shins album for me to get my hands on."
God Bless the Shins
Brandon Whitfeld | nyc | 11/06/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The Shins, derivative of seemingly nothing, have perfected a delicate, masterful pop sensibility totally unique in today's modern/alternative music circles. With shades of the Smiths, Nick Drake, Belle and Sebastian, and the Beach Boys, this second album contains some high-flying work from this ethereal, glammy folk-rock quartet.James Mercer's highly-emotional, electrically-charged vocals wrapped around forceful, circular melodies that build upwards into the sky and back, is the key to their luscious sound. What do they sing about, really? Broken homecomings, unabashed memories from long ago, muted longings, the power of broken hearts, drifting into the ether, who knows really. It's hard to pin down their songs; their lyrics are as poetic, virtuosic and oddly visceral as the fragility of their music. But something about it just works, as if a golden hand from the gods has guided their way. Nothing have I heard has mixed haunting and harmonious to such brilliant effect.It is important to note that this album sounds very much like a continuation of their debut masterpiece, Oh, Inverted World. Yes, the band shows more colors here, and have done some musical exploring, but I can say with absolute assurance, that if you loved their first CD, you will be very pleased with Chutes Too Narrow.The lone striking chord that begins "So Says I", their first single, matches the keen assurance of Mercer's naked, choked voice that begins "Saint Simon", and says a lot for what this band can do with a simmering simplicity. "So Says I" will be the most familiar to you; its right off that first CD, feeling at home alongside "Know Your Onion" and "Girl on a Wing" in its thrust and verve. But the gorgeous, bizarre "Saint Simon" is an unexpected masterpiece, and will challenge any comparisons you might try and make: It's as if members of T Rex went carrolling in some future world far far away, and fed you their fever dreams.The album's opener, "Kissing the Lipless" approaches a hard-rocker, with a brash production number, and Mercer practically shrieking as the song builds. "Mine's Not a High Horse" is a great pop song, lilting and luminous, retaining its mystery and whatever secrets it inwardly holds that will keep it in your head for days, when you're not even sure anymore what you're humming. It might be my favorite song on the CD."Young Pilgrims" has a lolling, rockabilly bent to it, which is definitely something of a departure for them, but they somehow always manage to keep things tuneful. "Fighting in a Sack" also references their past songwriting, with a harmonica-laced, on-the-run pop glam-a-thon feel to it, and "Pink Bullets" brings that harmonica back for a softly pretty ballad soaked with longing and regret. At this point, the album dips a bit."Turn a Square" misses the mark for me, with a song structure that is slightly unfocussed and wavering for the Shins, and the smoky, country-influenced "Gone For Good" doesn't sound quite worthy of them, but still manages to be blissfully memorable: " I found a flaw in the logic of love..." Mercer sings on this song, sounding almost like the odd, recent experiments of alternative rock's fallen angel, Frank Black. The album closer is "Those to Come", a sweet simple folk song as reminiscent of the late Elliott Smith, as 70s British folk rock, which is not entirely successful here, but cannot be overlooked.However, the album as a whole will stand the test of time, for its true test of talent, mirth, and sincerity. The Shins keep things short: brief songs, an album that clocks in under a daytrip's drive home, but somehow manages to keep its swooning lyricism in your thoughts all day and all of the night."
We Could Not Have Hoped For A Better Second Album
Matt Kennedy | South Carolina | 10/24/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Many an indie rock fan fell in love with the Shins' 2001 debut, "Oh, Inverted World." They seemingly burst on to the scene completely formed, already possessing a sound uniquely their own (they've been together for almost a decade). On "Chutes Too Narrow," the Shins continue to cultivate a reputation for excellent songcraft, though this album provides a slicker production value and a different bass player (Dave Hernandez of Scared of Chaka replaces Neal Langford). Their first album was certainly characterized by a certain sound--one full of driving drum beats, melodic guitars, neat synth effects, and unforgettable vocal harmonies.
On "Chutes Too Narrow," the Shins part ways with that sound to a degree, offering a far more versatile collection of tunes. Some of them, including, 'Gone For Good,' 'Young Pilgrims,' and 'Pink Bullets,' are both acoustic and decidedly twangy. Others, such as 'So Says I' and 'Kissing The Lipless,' are more akin to the sound of the original record, complete with lovely harmonies and unbelievably catchy vocal hooks. This record is markedly different from the first one, but they somehow manage to keep grasp of what makes them The Shins. Whatever your tastes, it is difficult to deny that the songwriting on this album is both well thought out and a sign of excellent pop sensabilities. "Chutes Too Narrow" is a worthy successor to the band's acclaimed debut, hinting that this group will leave its mark both on indie rock history and in the creative minds of future artists--many would argue that they already have."