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PopTop review: The Shins need to spark it up if they want to change my life

Published March 20, 2012 10:03 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Grade: B-

CD •The best thing to ever happen to The Shins was for them to be name-checked by Natalie Portman's character in the film "Garden State." The worst thing to ever happen to The Shins was for Portman to tell another character that one particular Shins song, "New Slang," "will change your life."

The Portland, Ore.-based pop-rock band has since had to defend themselves as a band that "will change your live," and the problem is that frontman James Mercer seems like he is trying. With much of the band having been fired by Mercer since the band's 2007 album "Wincing the Night Away," Mercer is great at creating simple hooks and is a witty and incisive lyricist.

But the new album "Port of Morrow" sounds too carefully crafted — so studio-produced that the pop is sterile. The band's May 28 concert at Red Butte Garden is sold out, so we shall soon see if the group can reshape impotence into virility.