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Music that Makes Me Feel Stupid: The Shins

December 8, 2010

(Apologies to those who have already heard me gush about this band/song.)

At the risk of waxing academic, The Shins’ James Mercer has a grasp of the symbiotic relationship between melody and rhythm that is beyond my comprehension. Not to mention his sublime lyrical imagery.

Listen and marvel. The melody is like a compound-complex sentence. The phrasing is long and doesn’t repeat at all until the next verse, yet it retains the melodic charm of even the simplest Lennon/McCartney trifle. And the production…the pulse of the tambourine, the zig-zag sizzle of tremolo guitar leading into each quote-unquote “chorus,” followed by subdued fuzz guitar just in the background. Yet the song never rises above the prescribed level of steady intensity, even when overlapping voices and guitars are added toward the end.

Anyone want to take a crack at the rhyming scheme at play here? Yeah, me neither.

I’ve written bits of music here and there; some I’m even relatively proud of. But this stuff is mind-boggling, truly. I feel like Salieri to Mercer’s Amadeus.

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