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The Shins

Oh, Inverted World (Sub Pop)

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This is the kind of album you can listen to for days on end. Admittedly, these boys from Albuquerque have a way with a melody that sticks like a Mars Bar to your pants. There's a lot of that sunshiny Beach Boys atmosphere that's bound to draw comparisons to Pet Sounds as well as the first two Big Star albums. But with its swirling keyboard textures and buoyant lust for life, Oh, Inverted World, the band's full-length debut, reeks of '80s etherealness, too. "One by One All Day," for example, comes straight from early R.E.M. But the Shins draw on influences far and wide to put together their semi-Rotarian crusade. There's a lot of that hazy, whimsical English-cottage ambiance. Check out the brilliant opening track, "Caring Is Creepy," for proof. Traffic, Genesis, and Thunderclap Newman come to mind.

Singer James Mercer, who also fronted the now-defunct Flake Music, sings in that same kind of delicate falsetto, but it's an effective tool, as are the band's rolling dreamscape atmospheres. Think of the Shins as a less lo-fi Minders, another band on the indie horizon that harks back to mid-'60s Brits. "Weird Divide" is ethereal on the level of something by the Kinks or the Who. "The Celibate Life" proves that Scottish alterna-popsters Belle & Sebastian have nothing on these boys. "Girl on the Wing," meanwhile, is pure new-wave/power-pop bliss. And "The Past and Pending" will make you pull out your Neil Young records. This is lovely, lovely stuff. Seriously, you gotta hear it.

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