#1 – The Shins – Port of Morrow
I remember a line a TV commentator used to describe the Denver Broncos’ Terrell Davis, during the brief stint in the late 90s when he was the NFL’s best running back.
“His strength is that he has no weaknesses.”
That quote ran through my head when I made the decision to place The Shins’ Port of Morrow at the top of my list of the best albums of the decade (so far). Because unlike everything else on the list, this album doesn’t have a weak moment.
Most albums, even the great ones, have a song or two that pale in comparison to the record’s highlights. Not this one. Every song is a finely-polished jewel, penned and performed by James Mercer with passion and precision. Throw in another p-word… it’s perfect.
I love the breadth of subject matter Mercer covers on Port of Morrow. One song is told from the perspective of a suicide bomber; another is a reminiscence about a prostitute who turned tricks outside an Army base in Germany; another explores the emotions tied to passing one’s atheism down to a child.
He offers up a good old-fashioned love song, too — ‘Simple Song,’ one of my favorites of the decade and beyond.
Start to finish, Port of Morrow is the most satisfying record I’ve heard this decade.
So, here endeth the countdown. I’m happy with this list of 20 albums. It’s been a good start to the 10s, though I wonder how many of these records will be unseated by recordings yet to come. I look forward to finding out.
Peace and quiet, a means of subtraction
How she got in, I’m not sure that I know
2 weeks on and my spine was in traction, my eyes in a basket
My gut and my heart are so out of phase
And that kind of girl she’s nobody’s daughter
Just not used to these powerful ways
Shot in the brass and I’m taking on water
What am I to do now?
I call on the beautiful witch
The moral compass
Bait and switch
Hide from my physic derailleur
Drive his car to the sea
Spend the night as high as i can In a towering hemlock
But it’s not used to be
Always be found
A creature of habit has no real protection
Tell her I’m leaving, she don’t settle down
She sees it’s a lie on closer inspection
Like everyone else does
Been rubbing a terrible charm
Holding smoke in my arms
I’m just a simple man
Cursed with an honest heart
Watch it go and tear it all apart