Port of Morrow - The Shins
User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 63 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 56 out of 63
  2. Negative: 2 out of 63

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  1. j30
    Mar 20, 2012
    9
    The Shins Port of Morrow is triumphant return. Unlike Radiohead's TKOL and Red Hot Chili Peppers' I'm With You, it's one of those albums you look forward to months in advance and it doesn't disappoint.
  2. Mar 20, 2012
    10
    A great addition to The Shins' discography, and easily the best album to have been released this year (as of so far at least). While it lacks some of the poignant lows of previous albums, the soaring highs carry the album far above many previous ventures of Mercer's. Although at times Port of Morrow can sound quite crisp and clean in comparison to the dark instrumentation of Wincing the Night Away or the lo-fi element of Oh, Inverted World, it still manages to hold its own, proving once again the prowess of James Mercer's abilities. Overall, I love this album to death, and while it does threaten to fizzle out towards the end, it's incredibly enjoyable and a great listen. Expand
  3. Mar 21, 2012
    5
    The Shins peaked in 2003 with Chutes Too Narrow, and with Port of Morrow little else needs to be said about this band. A bland album for people who like bland music. The kind of inoffensive music I expect to hear over a the speakers at a mall. Skip it.
  4. Mar 21, 2012
    6
    "Port of Morrow", the long awaited follow up to the underrated "Wincing the Night Away", ultimately disappoints and frustrates this longtime "Shins" fan with it's tragic lack of identity. Early on in this album there are several moments that reminded me of why I love The Shins. "Simple Song" is a fantastic track that gave me hope for another classic full length. However, sometime after "September" (another track that I loved and thought would have fit in perfectly with "Chutes Too Narrow") this album really loses its way and most importantly its identity. "No Way Down" starts out like a generic Christian rock song and vocally sounds like a "They Might Be Giants" rip-off. Not to say it's bad, but it isn't The Shins that I fell in love with. The title track seems to be going for something atmospheric and epic, but it really just falls flat for me.

    "It's Only Life" is the most frustrating track on this album, for me. It seems like a really, really good song. But there is a perfection to the production that is almost off putting. Too glossy. Too ready for adult contemporary radio. Compared to the previously mentioned "Simple Song" (that takes a lot of risks that pay off extraordinarily well), it just comes across sounding like two different projects. Their three previous records are must-own albums for me, but sadly I cannot really put "Port of Morrow" in those ranks.
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  5. Apr 19, 2012
    3
    I'd have to disagree with j30...I found it an album I looked forward to for months and found hugely disappointing. "Wincing..." still gets regular plays after years of listening, but this? I've made myself listen to this on and off for about 2 weeks, hoping for something, but its just fairly insipid in the main. That would be reasonable, but there are a number of songs which make me want to turn it off immediately. This is mainly due to lyrics (e.g. the first use of the term "ducks in a row" outside of a business meeting full of chubby guys in chinos, or that stuff about dishwater disguised as lemonade) but there are also some musical moments where they seem to be striving for some kind of MOR-type appeal (maybe those chubby guys at the meeting? "Hey Chet, great slides, have you heard of the Shins, they're this new band..."). There are a few decent tunes, Simple Song stands out but I'm already getting a little sick of it. One review I read described it as music made especially for people in their late 30s who still want to feel a bit cool. The reviewer meant it as a good thing, and yeah I'd fall into that category but that statement kind of sums up how it sounds to me. Expand
  6. Jun 11, 2012
    9
    I'm an average, at best, Shins fan. I've always found flaws in their production, song construction, etc. when others praise their eclectic and almost jazz-like approach to songwriting that has frequently been void of enough melody for me to completely swallow their greatness. That changes tremendously with Port of Morrow. While purists may not agree, this is, by far my favorite Shins album. Their production is cleaner, more professional and brings out the greatness of their unique structure, while also driving melody through them. "The Rifle's Spiral," "It's Only Life," "No Way Down," and "40 Mark Strausse" are the highlights in an almost perfect album. Expand
  7. Sep 2, 2012
    9
    Though it might not be "critically brilliant", Port of Morrow is one of very few albums in 2012 that I still listen to frequently months after its release.
  8. Mar 26, 2012
    7
    Agreed strongly with dimedwitnick's review. A few songs did sound a bit like motivational pop. After listening to the album several times, four of the first five songs are pretty good, then the album slips into mediocrity. Still, the song September must rank among their absolute best and it should be released as a single. Simple Song is also terrific. Overall, the album is a very easy listen, but don't expect it to be as great as earlier Shins albums. I will be anxiously awaiting the second album by Broken Bells. Expand
  9. Mar 31, 2012
    8
    Port Of Morrow is a return to form from indie outfit The Shins. It's far more different from their previous three albums, but still manages to hold that pop rock feel to it. James Mercer is the only surviving member of the band which isn't a bad thing at all. It feels and sounds like a new band, and I love it. All In All, Port Of Morrow is a fantastic record. B+
  10. Mar 20, 2012
    7
    This is a good album. There a few elements that are just missing on it for me though. For one, at some points, it doesn't feel like a Shins album. Though there are good songs on here such as Bait and Switch, Rifle's Spiral, It's Only Life, Simple Song, and No Way Down, but there isn't any of those quirky songs with twists and turns like there was in Chutes too Narrow, Inverted World or even Wincing the Night Away. There aren't any Caring Is Creepy or New Slang, or Australia or New Limb or Kissing the Lipless. None of those fun quirky songs that you can just bob your head to and sing along while doing your best James Mercer falsetto. I mean this a good album, but it just doesn't feel like a Shins album to me. Maybe it's because of the lineup change. The new lead guitarist seems to be a bit generic with her riffs and that kinda brings it down for me because the Shins, in the past, were far from generic. Still though, this is a good, enjoyable album with a few songs on here that will be re-playable for a very long time. Recommend this album to any Shins fans, new or old. Collapse
  11. May 3, 2012
    7
    The Shins returns after a long absense with very little of the original band remaining. Listening to the band talk about this album you would think it's going to be a contender for record of the year. Unfortunately they are a bit deluded. It's a good record with some nice pop songs on it but that's it really. Reminds me of the Kooks - they have something going for them but not as much as they think themselves. Expand
  12. May 16, 2012
    8
    I really think that more reviews need to be written after the album has been out for several months or even years. I thought the album pleasant but unremarkable when I first heard it and would probably have ranked it a 6. I loved Simple Song - so did pretty much everyone else as far as I can tell.

    But after many, many listens I love the album more and more as a whole. (I note that
    my "album" includes "Pariah King" which is very good and should in my view have been officially on the album as the last track). "September," "For a Fool" and "Port of MOrrow" are all wonderfully melodic and swirling and I defy anyone to not sooner or later attempt to sing along with Mercer's falsetto on the tracks. They are also all tracks that I found fairly boring or nondescript on the first run through. For me the album is a sleeper hit that grows with repeated listening much like Crowded House's Woodface. Expand
  13. Mar 22, 2012
    8
    Not the Shins' best work, but still great. There are some great songs and some that need some work. They lack the witty songwriting that made Chutes Too Narrow special, but accompany the lyrics with cheerful melodies that make you want to sing along. Good album, but definitely not their best.
  14. Jun 3, 2012
    8
    "With an intoxicating blend of slippery jazz rhythms and Mercer's slinky falsetto," I give Port Of Morrow a B+. The album may not be as great as the three albums that preceded it, but that doesn't mean that it's not a great album on its own. "Simple Song" and "The Rifle's Spiral" are two favourites.
  15. Mar 20, 2012
    9
    It is a great album, it sounds like a combination of their previous albums and may be their best, most consistent album since Chutes Too Narrow. I highly recommend this album to both people new to The Shins and long time listeners.
  16. Mar 21, 2012
    9
    While Oh, Inverted World remains my favorite Shins release (so typical, I know), several listens to Port of Morrow place it second in line behind their debut and ahead of Chutes Too Narrow and Wincing the Night Away. James Mercer's lyrical skills are front and center - as is his voice - with a set of more consistently good songs. (As opposed to the occasional hiccups that appeared on Chutes Too Narrow and the much more inconsistent Wincing the Night Away.) Highlights include: "Fall of '82" -- great chord and tempo changes AND a trumpet (yes, trumpet!) solo; opener "The Rifle's Spiral" -- reminiscent of elements of previous openers "Kissing the Lipless" and "Caring is Creepy"; "September" -- sounds like this was the finished track for which Wincing the Night Away's "Girl Sailor" (along with elements of "Red Rabbits") was merely a demo; and "Bait and Switch." Port of Morrow was well worth the wait. Expand
  17. Mar 24, 2012
    10
    Port of Morrow is the best album I've heard in recent years, and it is working its way higher in my all-time favorites list with each listen. The album is replete with beautiful melodies, harmonies, bridges, instrumentation, lyrics, and production. Like The Shinsâ
  18. Apr 9, 2012
    3
    My very limited knowledge of The Shins prior to watching them on Saturday Night Live a few weeks back was that they were the object of affection from Natalie Portman's character in the movie Garden State, where she proclaimed the band would "change your life, I swear". Their music in the film failed to have any such life-changing impact on me and other than thinking their name was pretty awful, I never paid much more attention, relegating them to the bin of undesirable hipster music that normally clashes with my own musical sensibilities (The Black Keys have recently taken up permanent residence there).
    The Shins' first SNL performance was "Simple Song", the first single from their new Port Of Morrow album. I was immediately drawn in by its ultra-hooky melodies, even while being completely turned off by the band's dull performance style and massively unappealing visual aspect. Other than animated drummer Joe Plummer (I like the ones that really attack their kits), there was just a real lack of stage presence and showmanship, combined with a drab wardrobe style that appears to have been significantly influenced by high school guidance counsellors, coffee house baristas, and playground flashers. The latter reference is to creepy overcoat-wearing keyboardist Richard Swift - somebody should also really tell him the Phil Lynott-style coif was a terrible idea. This aesthetic deficiency would also appear to extend to The Shins' album art, as you can clearly tell by the butt-ugly Port Of Morrow cover; the covers for Shins album one, two, and three are no better. Am I being overly shallow about all of this? Probably, but pardon me for expecting a little more in a rock group's visual presentation. So now that I've mostly crapped all over this Portland-based band, consisting of an almost entirely new lineup after frontman and lead singer/guitarist James Mercer fired the rest of the previous members, is their first album in five years any good? Not really. "Simple Song" is a stark anomaly on an otherwise mostly forgettable collection of songs that are rooted in a late 60s-era pop sensibility heavy on melodies; despite that influence, though, they also still manage to somehow feel mopey and depressing. I actually found the "Simple Song" versus-the-rest-of-the-album juxtaposition pretty fascinating - Mercer's great voice, a great drum performance, some killer hooks, and an interestingly wonky guitar line over the verses add up to one of the best songs I've heard in the past year, with a sound that instantly reminded me of The Who's poppier side circa the late 70s/early 80s. After that, however, the pickings are extremely slim, with only the catchy "No Way Down" and the ambitious "It's Only Life" making it to even a "decent" categorization. Album opener "The Rifle's Spiral" has more of an edge than most of the rest of the material, but can't fight its way past a one-dimensional song structure and "Bait And Switch" has a bossa nova/Santana feel that just feels out of place. Everything else on the album is slow, dreary pop-folk that should please the shoegazer crowd.
    Next album around, I'll sample what The Shins are selling, based purely on the strength of that one great track. Unfortunately, the rest of Port Of Morrow works as little more than a great justification for illegal downloading.
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  19. May 26, 2012
    8
    I was really excited when I heard that there's gonna be a new The Shins album and I pre-ordered it to get it as fast I can. I think it's a good album but just not as brilliant as their older records. My favorite songs are "Simple Song"; "The Rifles Spiral" and "Bait and Switch" because they sound more like their older songs.
  20. Jul 24, 2014
    7
    This album is different from so many albums as it emphasizes electronics intrusments and layers the basics of a song and melody. While it isn't exactly indie pop it is inspired by it though.
  21. Jan 18, 2013
    8
    I've returned to this album recently after not really getting on with it first time round. I think it consists of 10 very fine songs. Better than 'Wincing' for me, but not as good as their first two obviously.
  22. Feb 6, 2013
    9
    All in all, this album is a lot of great work. Not perfect, but there are some addictive tracks on here, and Mercer brings some great additions to the Shins catalogue.
  23. Jan 20, 2014
    9
    I always tried to get into The Shins, but I never could. Until I heard "Simple Song"
    What is "Simple Song" well it's the second track, and the highlight of the album, and it represents the rest of the album, you come for Simple Song, and stay for the whole album.
Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 43 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 43
  2. Negative: 0 out of 43
  1. 90
    With Port of Morrow Mercer digs deep in forming a polished and almost, muscular relationship with the music.
  2. Jul 9, 2012
    40
    An aesthetically perfect long play er that dithers in the background. [Jun 2012, p.155]
  3. May 7, 2012
    55
    "Bait and Switch," the best song on Port of Morrow, recaptures some of this eager, joyful glee; but in my opinion, the rest of the album holds none of these virtues.