Style: Alternative pop; compare to The Postal Service, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse
Top tracks: "Simple Song," "It's Only Life," "Bait and Switch"
These 10 new tracks should prove a tall drink of water for the legion of fans thirsting for The Shins' quirky, chiming melodies after their last studio effort five long years ago. James Mercer's brand-new backing band handles his left-field instrumental vision well enough, but it's his falsetto-loving, singular voice that benevolently dominates the oddly satisfying aural experience, revealing more layers with each listen. The empathetic, hopeful "It's Only Life" showcases the album's lyrical bent toward the deeper side of relationships while the first single, "Simple Song," seems to nod toward the spiritual folly of operating on one's own strength. Charming and challenging.1