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If we had, say, an undulating curve of shifting expectations, we would put The Shins' new album solidly in the backlash to the backlash section. There was that Garden State era when it became so, so, so horribly uncool to like The Shins, because faux-hipster Zach Braff had decided that they would change your life and anyone that does a musical episode of his hospital sitcom cannot be trusted. BUT! The Shins would not be vanquished, despite the full-scale onslaught of Braff & Co. Their new album, Wincing the Night Away, is a dream.

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It's more assertive than either of their previous full-lengths, with a little bit of an '80s vibe (in a good way, trust us), some intense sea-faring imagery, and a lovely air of melancholy that manages to be just short of precious. Trust us—you will want to return to The Shins when you hear this album. (Note: This should in no way be taken as an invitation to comment about how you've loved The Shins since before forever, and so on and so forth. Just listen, and enjoy, for once, you cynical bastard.)

The Shins [MySpace]
Wincing the Night Away [Sub Pop]