Some may have feared for The Shins today. On paper, their breezy indie pop looks a bit incongruous sandwiched between harsh, chaotic hip-hoppers OFWGKTA and the heavy, human pyramid-loving Enter Shikari, but in reality, it’s masterstroke, providing the perfect opportunity for the Main Stage crowd to kick back for a while.
While this is (literally) a very different band to the last time The Shins were here, with only singer/guitarist James Mercer remaining, the new-look group are still well-versed in all the things they do best, with ‘Australia’ as perky as ever.
There’s nothing to worry about with the new songs from the excellent ‘Port Of Morrow’ either, with a wordly ‘Simple Song’ sounding gorgeous, and a staccato ‘Bait And Switch’, an urgent ‘Rifle’s Spiral’ and the title track providing neat changes of mood and pace.
That’s not to say the old favourites are neglected either, with ‘Phantom Limb’’s “ooo-woo-ooo” chorus resulting in a hazy singalong, and ‘Saint Simon’’s clever wordplay helping those who’ve overindulged claw back some lost brain cells.
As Reading’s head clears, it rises to dance again, even hitting ‘So Says I’’s high notes, and the moves continue with a disco-esque take on ‘No Way Down’.
A sumptuous ‘Know Your Onion’ helps the sun chase away some ominous-looking clouds to give these summery songs the backdrop they deserve, and choosing the initially floaty ‘Sleeping Lessons’ as the set closer makes sense once it bursts into punky, bouncy life, with lyrics like “You’re not obliged to swallow anything you despise” handy advice for anyone contemplating another dodgy burger.
The Shins may not be the biggest-sounding band on the big stage today, but they’re probably the most catchy, and songwriting as strong as Mercer’s will always win out.
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