Metascore
73

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 30
  2. Negative: 1 out of 30
Buy On
  1. 83
    True to the band’s spirit, but willing to push beyond aesthetically, Heartworms is a rewarding and singular addition to the Shins’ catalog.
  2. 80
    Overall Mercer’s songwriting creds are well in tact.
  3. Mar 10, 2017
    80
    Throughout Heartworms, Mercer and company prove that their sparse output is well worth the wait. The totality of the record is enough to engulf listeners in myriad textures accomplished via sound and vision.
  4. Mar 8, 2017
    80
    The evolution and maturation of The Shins might continue at its steady pace with this record, but it’s all the better for the sense of nostalgia that pervades it, seeping from both its music and its lyrics.
  5. 80
    Though that melancholy seeps deeper into songs like “So Now What” and “The Fear”, it’s never allowed to dominate, with the latter’s rolling drone groove quixotically tempered by the addition of mariachi horns, a typically off-centre touch.
  6. Mar 2, 2017
    80
    Melancholy levels are high--but that’s a distraction, as beneath this motif is a wealth of songwriting nous that continues to set Mercer apart from his peers.
  7. Q Magazine
    Feb 24, 2017
    80
    An utter gem. [Apr 2017, p.110]
  8. Uncut
    Feb 24, 2017
    80
    Hyperactively wordy and exquisitely tuneful. [Apr 2017, p.39]
  9. Mojo
    Feb 24, 2017
    80
    With Heartworms James Mercer has produced another fine crop of pop. [Apr 2017, p.88]
  10. Mar 13, 2017
    76
    Although Heartworms never quite conjures the magic of those first couple Shins albums, it’s further proof that they weren’t a fluke. This guy always did, and still does, know how to write a song that sticks.
  11. Mar 10, 2017
    75
    While [“Name For You” is] a decidedly summery affair, it deals with serious ideas, admonishing those with antiquated notions who might try to stand in his daughters’ way while cruising through the infectious melodies. This dynamic is the engine that powers Heartworms, with subject matter frequently much heavier than the psychedelia-tinged pop its bathed in.
  12. Mar 10, 2017
    75
    After a decade-plus in which they've evolved from cult heroes to respected major-label denizens, the Shins still prove capable of delivering a few surprises.
  13. 75
    Mercer is a poetic lyricist and his abstractedness continues on Heartworms. With all the extra bells and whistles on this record however, it takes extra attention to appreciate the details.
  14. Mar 10, 2017
    71
    Heartworms is an understated and charming production of orchestral rock, surfy riffs cresting summery melodies and experimental streaks of reverb.
  15. Magnet
    May 18, 2017
    70
    Heartworms is a slow-burning grower that rewards repeat listens but requires some commitment to love. [No. 142, p.58]
  16. Mar 16, 2017
    70
    “Painting a Hole” piles on more, including a stomping drum beat and a vaguely Middle Eastern synth line, while flavors of 1980s new wave crop up in “Cherry Hearts” and “Rubber Ballz,” each a vivid reflection of the deep record-nerd knowledge that Mercer played down on “Port of Morrow.”
  17. Mar 10, 2017
    70
    Nothing on Heartworms matches the processional majesty of Port of Morrow’s “Simple Song,” or even the go-for-broke mugging of “Fall of ‘82,” an unholy riff on Joe Walsh, Steely Dan, and Thin Lizzy. What Heartworms does have, though, is the informal approach to formalism shared by another Southwesterner transplanted to Portland, Britt Daniel.
  18. Mar 10, 2017
    70
    While Heartworms has its melodic pop moments and the band tries to remain indie-rock stalwarts, there seems to be a lack of cohesiveness between the songs. But one thing that remains strong is Mercer's ability to craft songs that are always interesting, otherworldly, and transport you to another universe.
  19. Mar 9, 2017
    70
    Although the core songwriting is never quite as captivating and merciful as it was on previous albums, Heartworms nonetheless has an adventurous outer shell, and the Shins seem to revel in the newfound space inside of it.
  20. Mar 9, 2017
    70
    Though it takes a few listens to get to the heart of Heartworms, fans who have stuck with Mercer for this long will find it time well spent.
  21. Mar 9, 2017
    70
    The result is some of most charming music he's ever made.
  22. Mar 16, 2017
    60
    Heartworms is an album of tinkering and pootling, the sound of a man reminiscing on life, referencing his favourite records--less rock star, more bloke living out his hobby from the comfort of a suburban garage.
  23. Mar 16, 2017
    60
    This album is just a few puzzle pieces shy of being great, and that’s a damn shame.
  24. Mar 13, 2017
    60
    There are so many ideas in Heartworms that give substance to Mercer’s unremitting passion to create, and though he manages to enliven and push the project forward it more so blurs Mercer’s artistic and commercial ambitions.
  25. Mar 10, 2017
    60
    While opener ‘Name For You’ is catchy, and album highlight ‘Rubber Ballz’ is a foot-stomping earworm, Heartworms largely represents a loss of ambition.
  26. Mar 9, 2017
    60
    On paper, Mercer's lyrics too often engage in heavy-handed wordplay (“I take the drugs, but the drugs won't take”) or drift off into abstraction (“I dine like an aging pirate”), though the vocals aren't always featured prominently enough to easily decipher on a casual listen.
  27. 58
    Despite the glorious melodies hidden within so many of these tracks, like the opening duo of “Name for You” and “Painting a Hole”, huge potential is undermined by ham-fisted executions and depths you could wade through.
  28. Mar 15, 2017
    50
    Heartworms has some songs that longtime Shins fans will appreciate, and they should seek out those songs. But in the age of unlimited audio streaming, it is hard to make a case that the entire album is worth their time.
  29. Mar 13, 2017
    50
    Frankly, Mercer’s unfiltered production makes Heartworms an exhausting listen.
  30. Mar 7, 2017
    20
    Aimless and fussy, Heartworms sounds like the kind of album a person with slightly too much money, their own studio and a massive ego would make. Crushingly disappointing, this is, alas, no return to form.
User Score
7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 38 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 38
  2. Negative: 2 out of 38
  1. May 16, 2017
    8
    From the amazingly steady tunefulness to the wonderfully audacious synthetic textures, this is one of the year’s best albums, and while itFrom the amazingly steady tunefulness to the wonderfully audacious synthetic textures, this is one of the year’s best albums, and while it doesn’t create anything ultramodern or cohesive for big avant-grade fans, it’s the consistently brilliant songwriting that gives the album importance. My Score: 149/180 (Great) = 8.3/10 Full Review »
  2. Mar 10, 2017
    8
    Definitely a record that explores their lo-fi electronic sound more. There's some nice vocal samples and harmonies throughout. Mercer hasDefinitely a record that explores their lo-fi electronic sound more. There's some nice vocal samples and harmonies throughout. Mercer has proved again that he is a fantastic producer as well as musician. Although the pad synths get kind of old after a while. Definitely a record to check out! Full Review »
  3. Apr 15, 2017
    9
    Pop genius from the Shins. Songs that are really endearing. Lots of quirky electronic sounds while retaining a simple listenability. NearPop genius from the Shins. Songs that are really endearing. Lots of quirky electronic sounds while retaining a simple listenability. Near perfection. Full Review »