• Record Label: Sub Pop
  • Release Date: Jan 23, 2007

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. Wincing the Night Away makes both [previous] albums sound like fragmented potential.
  2. It's much less forthright and immediate than Inverted or Chutes, but it succeeds in spinning a web that draws you in; once caught you just want to lie back and absorb its gentle bounce.
  3. What really makes Wincing the Night Away succeed is how the Shins’ moneymaker templates evolve into more complex tapestries. In a manner similar to the New Pornos, the third album becomes the most successful due to an implied heft that comes from a concerted effort to sound like a band rather than a singer-songwriter vehicle.
  4. If Oh, Inverted World and Chutes Too Narrow were like ADHD-riddled cousins, unable to inhabit their own thoughts for longer than a few seconds at a time, then Wincing The Night Away is the Ritalin-gorged riposte. Its bounce is more bleary-eyed; its euphoric bouts tempered by a weird, waking-dream sensation that some dark presence is stalking the peripheries of its foggy vision.
  5. A layered and beautiful work that solidifies The Shins as The Band That Matters. [#16, p.94]
  6. Wincing The Night Away covers all the bases and proves what loyal followers have known all along, that The Shins are, for better or worse, rock stars.
  7. When he's on, Mercer is a great songwriter, crafting classic pop-rock melodies that leap across octaves and twist in unexpected directions.
  8. Mainly, the new disc is just more tentative than Chutes Too Narrow, with a lot of songs—like the first single, "Phantom Limb"—sounding like foggier, heavier versions of what The Shins have done before.
  9. Not everything works... but even the flawed experiments make for an enjoyable listen.
  10. Even the punchiest tracks are cast in navy blues and ink blacks. As such, it’s ever-so-slightly less immediately pleasing as 2003’s Chutes Too Narrow and the debut Oh, Inverted World. But the growth in Mercer’s songwriting, and the band’s precision and versatility, are also readily apparent.
  11. Wincing the Night Away is the sound of the Shins acknowledging where they've been and moving on to new territory, and while it probably won't change your life, it probably will make it more enjoyable.
  12. A quietly ambitious effort that nudges the Shins' trademark indie pop into unexpected new directions.
  13. If the album isn't quite up to the lofty standards of their earlier work, it isn't off by much, meaning that Wincing The Night Away gives 2007 its first great pop record.
  14. "Wincing The Night Away" shows The Shins as fleet-footed and supremely confident, their slightly off-beat sensibility happily uncompromised by its (newly) gleaming production and overall panoramic bigness.
  15. Wincing The Night Away is super-smart pop music the way they (Brits, mainly) used to make it 20 years ago. [Feb 2007, p.100]
  16. 80
    Wincing isn't so much a departure as it is an all-out augmentation, taking the best things about The Shins and amplifying them. [Feb 2007, p.72]
  17. 80
    There are twists, but no clutter, just a gentle lyricism leaving every song lit from the inside. [Feb 2007, p.100]
  18. Wincing the Night Away suffers from a fair deal of uncharacteristic filler.
  19. Mercer's a knotty lyricist, favoring arcane language but not old-fashioned storytelling, so it's sometimes hard to trace what's going on beneath all the ambience.
  20. For every elastic, tuneful, vacuum-packed “Phantom Limb” or “Australia” -- pop craftsmanship of the highest order, redolent of Chutes’ front-to-back triumph, crystalline, flawless and packed so thick with thoughts and words and hooks that they unravel marvelously indefinitely -- there’s an obvious b-side.
  21. Wincing the Night Away feels labored. Gracefully realized though it is, you can hear the three-plus years Mercer spent pondering how to satisfy the expectations his surprise classic had created -- and also how to remain fresh and true to himself.
  22. 70
    Wincing is a purposefully low-impact affair. [Jan 2007, p.87]
  23. Wincing the Night Away is a lovely and well-executed album and-- for the first time in the band's career-- nothing more.
  24. Like the other Shins albums, this one is sneaky; it takes hold slowly but insistently. [22 Jan 2007]
  25. WIncing The Night Away as a whole is both inconsistent and even odd in sequencing.
  26. The production is smoother, but when Sleeping Lessons morphs from an opiate dream to a riffing stomp with such exhilarating economy, or Red Rabbits wraps drunkenly swaying strings around yet another firmament-bound chorus, you can forgive an occasional excess of slickness.
  27. The hooks are much more muted than on the band’s debut Oh, Inverted World, and overall Wincing the Night Away assumes a less assertive stance than sophomore standout Chutes Too Narrow.
  28. 70
    All that carefulness turns out to be bloodless. [Mar 2007, p.139]
  29. Wincing The Night Away has enough dreamy, jangly and melodic indie-pop that almost lives up to the hype and will leave swirling, seraphic sensations playing inside your head.
  30. Wincing is neither the clever genre recombinant exercise of their second album nor is it the perfect little self-contained universe of their debut. This is not the Shins' best album; it's their growing pains third record.
  31. I usually find Shins albums grow on me slowly but surely yet after a good dozen plays I feel my faith isn't being repaid this time, and as a fan that's frustrating.
  32. [It] feels more put-on than intimate, more tried than true. [Feb 2007, p.109]
  33. Wincing the Night Away feels a little paunchy, a little resigned – this is music that not only is mature enough to know that it can’t change the world, but is content to not try.
  34. While Mercer's writing is still more satisfying than that of his peers, filler tunes like "Pam Berry" and "Black Wave" are a far cry from the tenacious stuff that made Chutes the subject of lavish hyperbole.
  35. There's something about this album that militates against devotion: a coolness that dampens the indie-pop energy and threatens to leave listeners entirely unmoved.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 170 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 87 out of 100
  2. Negative: 8 out of 100
  1. MichaelC.
    Jan 31, 2008
    The second half of the album trails off in to okay, but kind of generic and bland pop music. But the first half is so mindblowingly good, I The second half of the album trails off in to okay, but kind of generic and bland pop music. But the first half is so mindblowingly good, I could care less. Sleeping Lessons, Australia, and Phantom Limb are among my favorite songs of the year. The Shins can make some incredible music. Full Review »
  2. j30
    Jan 24, 2012
    This an interesting release from The Shins, especially after Chutes Too Narrow, the feels like it has too much of a mainstream appeal. I guessThis an interesting release from The Shins, especially after Chutes Too Narrow, the feels like it has too much of a mainstream appeal. I guess my biggest problem with it all is they play it too safe. Full Review »
  3. Mar 24, 2011
    Wincing The Night Away may be the least of The Shins album, but nevertheless a great album. The opener "Sleeping Lessons" is the most guitarWincing The Night Away may be the least of The Shins album, but nevertheless a great album. The opener "Sleeping Lessons" is the most guitar driven track The Shins have ever put out. The rest of the tracks are pop melodies that have different elements added to them. James Mercer's vocals is still wonderful this time round. All In All, Wincing The Night Away is the slowest Shins record yet, but it's still soft melodies that, just like every other Shins album, will stay in your head. B+ Full Review »