Chutes Too Narrow

  • Record Label: Sub Pop
  • Release Date: Oct 21, 2003

Universal acclaim - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. On Chutes, Mercer’s voice is singing right next to you, and the change works wonders.
  2. On every tune, Mercer packs more hooks and melodic invention than most bands do on one album. As a whole, it's an even better record than Inverted World.
  3. Alternative Press
    [They] satisfy largely by serving up more of what made their debut so good. [Dec 2003, p.142]
  4. Mojo
    It sears through the essence of what makes this band special, the brave voice and ebullient delivery of singer-songwriter-guitarist James Mercer. [Apr 2004, p.98]
  5. Entertainment Weekly
    Just the record you'd want: production a bit bigger, and songs more adventurous but no less indelible. [Listen 2 This supplement, Oct 2003, p.14]
  6. Uncut
    You don't expect progression from such evident classicists, but there's a new clarity, poise and refinement. [Apr 2004, p.107]
  7. Magnet
    A better record than the Shins' first--a sonically bolder production with fewer effects and more hooks per square inch than a flyrod factory. [#61, p.109]
  8. The Shins' second effort sparkles with a clarity that was not always evident on their debut and energizes with a spark and an enthusiasm that previously seemed forced.
  9. The Shins dare to take some chances on this CD, and their boldness winds up elevating this album over their first one by a considerable margin.
  10. Not simply an excellent album, Chutes Too Narrow is also a powerful testament to pop music's capacity for depth, beauty and expressiveness.
  11. Every emotion is intense and genuine, and the musicianship is just as moving as Mercer's lyrics.
  12. Any music snob who has ever fantasized about grafting Belle & Sebastian's deceptively sweet melodies onto Modest Mouse's angular rhythms and riffs needs look no further than the Shins.
  13. Recalls the overwhelming splendour of the Go-Betweens at their finest.
  14. Despite the weak finish, Chutes Too Narrow is still a fantastic next step for the Shins, building on the wildly successful formula of Oh, Inverted World, while still managing to push their sound in new directions.
  15. If you can’t find something here that has you smiling and quoting the old saw about rumours of indie’s death being greatly exaggerated, it’s time to take up opera.
  16. Under The Radar
    Sounding even sparser in instrumentation and sonic flavor than the previous record, Chutes often comes across like a Mercer solo project. [#5, p.104]
  17. Chutes Too Narrow's breezy subtlety is less accessible than the Shins' debut, but that doesn't mean the album lacks great songs.
  18. Without the thrill of discovery, it's no shock that the returns have diminished slightly on Chutes Too Narrow. But a minor step down from greatness still sounds damn good.
  19. Q Magazine
    A leap forward. [Apr 2004, p.120]
  20. Despite having a lot in common with their first disc, there are some slight variations in sound that make Chutes Too Narrow even better than its predecessor.
  21. Chutes Too Narrow proves the Shins have more on their minds than singing the perfect harmony or writing the ultimate couplet, and it's that deeper sense of introspection that makes it a keeper.
  22. Spin
    Mercer staggers from self-doubt to self-righteousness with each song, concealing razor blades inside his caramel-apple anthems. [Dec 2003, p.133]
  23. [Chutes] finds Albuquerque's finest further mining their own private bittersweet seam, kicking off with the pop turbulence of Kissing the Lipless and absurdly joyous Mine's Not a High Horse, before reaching another career peak with the dizzying exuberance of So Says I.
  24. Shins fans will find this a solidly enjoyable album.
  25. Blender
    Their second album is equally charming and more consistent. [Nov 2003, p.120]
  26. Seems to be the culmination and synthesis of a solid musical progression from good, yet uncertain and unchallenging, pop music to better, more confident, but still unchallenging, pop music.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 185 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 2 out of 110
  1. Nov 3, 2010
    I know like me a lot of people got into this band after watching Garden State. I did and I am not ashamed of that! I love this band even todayI know like me a lot of people got into this band after watching Garden State. I did and I am not ashamed of that! I love this band even today where their sound might not have aged well. I remember this album very fondly because the music was perfect for me for the time and what I was going through in life. Full Review »
  2. Sep 6, 2014
    This is more for people who didn't learn about the shins in "The Garden State" (not that there's anything wrong about that). Although not asThis is more for people who didn't learn about the shins in "The Garden State" (not that there's anything wrong about that). Although not as good as Oh, Inverted World, still an amazing album. Simply a pleasure to listen to. Full Review »
  3. Sep 5, 2013
    Despite the boring performances, The Shins (James Mercer) has been a part of countless brilliant pieces of music and this album is his master piece...