If I had to pick one band in my CD collection that I’m not obsessed with but probably should be, it would be The Shins. Listening to their three sublime albums, I never cease to be fascinated by the clever songwriting and offbeat, elegant production.
And they’ve gotten better and better, with the hesitant indie pop of their debut Oh, Inverted World giving way to the more confident Chutes Too Narrow and culminating in Wincing the Night Away, the 2007 album that ranks as one of the best pop records of that decade.
The Shins will probably forever be known as the band Natalie Portman, in the film Garden State, claimed would “change your life.” Just the thought of somebody as irresistibly adorable as Portman flirting with you in a doctor’s office and sharing a “moment” over music is pretty great.
There’s a reason writer-director-star Zach Braff chose The Shins for that scene, and a couple others, in his Gen-X pseudo-masterpiece. Their music is quaint, weird and other-worldly in a way that makes moments like that seem possible. Does it change your life? I’d argue that no song can, but it can sure make your life feel a little brighter for awhile.