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Musical Pairings: The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow

You may have heard of today’s Musical Pairing before: The Shins. They’ve been around for awhile now. But although they are pretty seasoned indie-rockers by this point, they’ve always reminded me of youth and new beginnings. Specifically, I associate them with my own “new beginnings” back when I first moved to San Francisco in the early naughts. I’d arrived in San Francisco with a suitcase full of clothes, a busted boombox with a dangling speaker, a backpack with my CD wallet and other random knick-knacks, an airplane blanket I’d stolen from the flight, and my pillow. The blanket came in handy because I had brought no other blankets, had no bed, and realized on my first night that we had no heat in my first apartment and, as I learned, it can get cold in San Francisco during the Summer. Only the boombox was more important than that small blanket in those first few days because, as we’ve pretty firmly established on this site, I’m addicted to music. In the evenings before bed, I’d go to my bare-walled bedroom and I’d blast my newest records, records like Oh, Inverted World, through that busted boombox. Laying on the floor wasn’t comfortable and the blanket was much too small to completely cover me, but I was much to excited to let a little physical discomfort ruin my mood.

Probably in part because Oh, Inverted World soundtracked that time for me, I was eagerly looking forward to the release of Chutes Too Narrow. And, it didn’t disappoint. I poured over every detail of the album in heavy doses. I am confident that there is a general consensus amongst people knowledgeable of such things that there are very, very few moments in indie-pop that are more perfect than the coda on “Saint Simon” which consists of those blissfully, feather-light la-la-la‘s as frontman James Mercer sings: “Mercy’s eyes are blue / when she places them in front of you / nothing really holds a candle to / the solemn warmth you feel inside of you.” In many ways, Chutes Too Narrow was a surprising move for The Shins. It was slightly less atmospheric than the lo-fi Oh, Inverted World, in part because the keyboards were provided less prominence and their guitars were, comparatively, let loose. The production is much cleaner than it’s predecessor, though that was to be expected considering their rising prominence in the indie music scene. But all of the changes were subtle, and they retained all of the qualities that were crucial to their appeal: Mercer’s poetic lyrics, catchy songwriting, bright, light-weight melodies, and thoughtful song structures. Chutes Too Narrow makes a perfect Musical Pairing for Kasey’s Broccoli Soup with Lemon and Ricotta.  The soup, like the album, is light, flavorful and easy to fall in love with.  Of course, it’s hard to go wrong with a creamy soup blended with fresh ricotta.

The Shins – So Says I

Head back to the Kitchen to read the recipe for Broccoli Soup with Lemon and Ricotta.  They head to Insound to buy Chutes Too Narrow on vinyl.

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Posted by Matthew Hickey


Matthew is the music editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. He’s addicted to vinyl records, pour over coffee, craft beer, small batch bourbon, and pan roasting pork chops.

  • Brian

    The “Saint Simon” coda is pretty freaking wonderful!

  • Kirsten Kilburn

    I fell in love with those la-la-la la’s as well, truly. What a wonderful site Matt. This is my first time visiting. Congratulations on it’s success.

  • Matthew

    Thanks Kirsten! I appreciate it. I hope all is well with you.

  • Rachel

    The Shins reminds me of my youth too. Their songs saw me through the transition from high school to college and listening to them now brings of some really, really intense feelings. Great pairing!

  • Emma

    I’m glad you brought these guys up as I had forgotten how much I used to listen to them! I can’t get enough of their new single “Simple Song,” and love their pre-order bundles. Like the one that offers a 1/4″ reel-to-reel of their new album. Definitely bringing back the old school! They’re currently streaming Simple Song on their site:

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