In the years since their surge of popularity in the early noughties, the Shins have more or less been whittled down to a James Mercer solo project. This record, his first in five years, certainly has the markings of a personal voyage. As well as being self-produced, it is full of candid, heartfelt anecdotes mixed with committee-free experimentation. New wave influences ripple throughout; Rubber Ballz has psychedelic qualities; Mildenhall is an Americana track that recalls his teen years in the UK and starting to discover music; the mechanical vocals in the verse of Cherry Hearts sound as if he’s channelling a robot. Name for You – inspired by his three daughters – finds him in paternal mode, giving a pep talk: “They’re just afraid of you speaking your mind.” 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.
Harriet Gibsone is a freelance journalist