The Shins – Heartworms review: ‘pop to move hearts and feet’

Rick Pearson
Truly exciting: James Mercer suggests a bright future for The Shins five albums in: THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty

Written and produced by frontman James Mercer, The Shins’ fifth album is a lyrical and melodic tour de force.

Opener Name For You is a female empowerment anthem filled with Beach Boys-inspired vocals, while on Fantasy Island Mercer confesses: “I always had something to hide, my skinny arms my evil intentions/Back at school hitting fire alarms, desperately wanting attention.”

Elsewhere, album highlight Cherry Hearts sounds like something the Beatles might have come up with if they’d sojourned in West Africa rather than India: fizzy, Afrobeat-inspired pop to move both hearts and feet.

Lyrically, the mood is one of nostalgia. But by plumbing his past, Mercer has made The Shins’ future sound truly exciting.