The Shins return with relaxed reunion album

Published 4:12 pm Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Shins’ first album since 2007 plays like a relaxed and comfortable reunion.

Lead singer and song-writer James Mercer effortlessly performs across 10 tracks on “Port of Morrow.”

The album comes largely from Mercer and producer co-producer Grey Kurstin. While many of the original members left the band, they still contributed on some of the tracks.

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Mercer has most recently spent his time playing with Danger Mouse — producer Brian Burton — in Broken Bells.

Burton’s influence infused the group’s debut “Broken Bells” and EP “Meyrin Fields” with a heavier reliance on electronic instrumentation and led Mercer to alternate his vocals to fit the sound.

On “Port of Morrow” Mercer sounds like he’s playing safely, as if he’s in part of a homecoming to an older sound.

Sure, the electronics play a larger role — possibly a result of Burton’s influence in Broken Bells.

The album is consistent to a fault. Few of the tracks separate themselves.

Still, Mercer’s homecoming to The Shins produces a comfortable, confident sound.