Wincing the Night Away

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Wincing the Night Away
Wincing the Night Away.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 23, 2007
RecordedMid 2005 – Mid 2006, Oregon City, Oregon; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington
GenreIndie rock, indie pop, post-punk revival
LabelSub Pop
ProducerJames Mercer, Joe Chiccarelli
The Shins chronology
Chutes Too Narrow
Wincing the Night Away
Port of Morrow
Singles from Wincing the Night Away
  1. "Phantom Limb"
    Released: November 14, 2006
  2. "Australia"
    Released: April 9, 2007
  3. "Turn on Me"
    Released: September 3, 2007
  4. "Sea Legs"
    Released: December 2, 2007
    (UK only)

Wincing the Night Away is the third studio album by the indie rock group The Shins. It was released by Sub Pop Records on January 23, 2007. It is the band's third album, and the last under their contract with Sub Pop. The album was recorded in James Mercer's basement studio, Phil Ek’s home in Seattle and in Oregon City with the veteran producer Joe Chiccarelli. It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album.

Writing and recording[edit]

Chiccareli had become acquainted with Mercer while in Portland, Oregon, working with Pink Martini.[1] At the time Mercer was recording the new Shins album on his own and finding that it was not going the way he wanted and at the speed he wanted.[1] Frustrated and in need of fresh objective feedback he sought Chiccarelli's advice and suggestions, before the producer eventually became involved in a professional capacity.[1]

The duo did not start the record from scratch; while they started some songs completely anew, they also retained some of the material that Mercer had been recording on his own.[1] According to Chiccarelli in an interview with HitQuarters, they spent around two months working together on the album.[1]


The title is a play on the title of a Sam Cooke song "Twistin' the Night Away". As reported in Rolling Stone magazine, it is a reference to band member James Mercer's "crippling insomnia". "Sleeping Lessons", the title of the first track, also refers to insomnia and was considered as a possible album title.[citation needed]

Before the album's release, Mercer announced Wincing the Night Away as the album title in an August 2006 interview with Billboard.[2]


The full track listing was announced by Pitchfork Media on October 16, 2006. The first single, "Phantom Limb", was released on iTunes on November 14, 2006, and reached physical retailers on November 21. The new album was previewed in its entirety on the band's MySpace.

The album was leaked from a promotional copy on October 20, 2006. Sub Pop hired a UK company to track down the source of the leak.[3]

On January 9, 2007, iTunes accidentally put the album on sale two weeks before its official release, then removed the option to purchase a day later. It is not known how many people purchased the album within these two days.[citation needed]

Sub Pop Records also released the album as a vinyl LP, which includes a free coupon to download the album in mp3 format.[citation needed]


Wincing the Night Away debuted at number 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling in excess of 118,000 copies.[4] This is the highest chart position reached by not only The Shins, but the whole Sub Pop label.[5] During the same week, it also appeared as the top album in four other category charts: Top Digital Albums, Top Rock Albums, Tastemakers and Top Independent Albums.

In the album's second week on the Billboard 200, it fell to number eight and sold about 53,000 copies.[6] Like Oh, Inverted World, the album went Gold.[7] As of January 2012 Wincing the Night Away has sold 622,000 copies in United States.[8]


Mercer said that the band was "stretching out" on the new album, and that the extended recording period had given them more time to develop their ideas.[9] He hoped to address more of the "human condition" on the third album, even though it is subdermally present in the previous two albums as well.[10] Wincing the Night Away is The Shins' most musically diverse and experimental album yet, ranging from hip hop loops to psychedelic to Hawaiian folk to new wave and post-punk elements.[citation needed]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[12]
The A.V. ClubB+[13]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[14]
The Guardian3/5 stars[15]
Los Angeles Times3/4 stars[16]
Q4/5 stars[19]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[20]
Spin3.5/5 stars[21]

According to the review aggregator Metacritic, Wincing the Night Away is rated slightly lower on average than its predecessor, Chutes Too Narrow. While fewer in number, the positive reviews provided higher praise than for the band's prior work. For example, the Austin Chronicle said that it "makes both [previous] albums sound like fragmented potential".[22] The New Musical Express stated that the album was "their best yet".[23] More negative reviews came from Dusted magazine, which said "this is music that not only is mature enough to know that it can't change the world, but is content to not try",[24] while Village Voice said, "filler tunes like "Pam Berry" and "Black Wave" are a far cry from the tenacious stuff that made Chutes the subject of lavish hyperbole."[25]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by James Mercer.

1."Sleeping Lessons"3:58
3."Pam Berry"0:56
4."Phantom Limb"4:47
5."Sea Legs"5:22
6."Red Rabbits"4:29
7."Turn on Me"3:41
8."Black Wave"3:19
9."Spilt Needles"3:45
10."Girl Sailor"3:44
11."A Comet Appears"3:49

The Japanese edition of the album contains two additional tracks, "Nothing at All" and "Spilt Needles" (alternate version), both taken from the "Phantom Limb" single. "Nothing at All" was also included on the album when pre-ordered on iTunes.


  • James Mercer – vocals, guitar, bass guitar, synthesizers, ukulele, banjo, cat piano, percussion, beat and MIDI programming
  • Marty Crandall – synthesizers, organ, bass guitar, percussion
  • Dave Hernandez – lead guitar
  • Jesse Sandoval – drums
  • Chris Funk – lap steel guitar on "Red Rabbits" and "A Comet Appears", hammered dulcimer and bouzouki on "A Comet Appears"
  • Eric D. Johnson – backing vocals and piano on "Girl Sailor"
  • Anita Robinson – backing vocals on "Phantom Limb" and "Turn On Me"
  • Paloma Griffin – violin on "Red Rabbits"
  • Niels Gallaway – French horn on "A Comet Appears"
  • Additional assistance by Jason McGerr, Marisa Kula, Chris Jones, Bob Stark, Brian Lowe, Brian Vibberts, Kendra Lynn, Wes Johnson & Pete Tewes.


  • Produced by James Mercer and Joe Chiccarelli
  • Mixed by Joe Chiccarelli
  • Additional production on "Australia", "Girl Sailor" and "Phantom Limb" by Phil Ek
  • Recorded by Sean Flora, Hiro Ninagawa, Brian Deck and Lars Fox
  • Recorded at Supernatural Sound, Oregon City; The Aural Apothecary, Portland; Avast! 2, Seattle
  • Mastered by Emily Lazar and Sarah Register at The Lodge, New York City
  • Design and illustration by Robert Mercer

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Interview with Joe Chiccarelli". HitQuarters. June 14, 2010. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  2. ^ "The Shins Stretching Out On Third Album". Billboard. Retrieved August 24, 2006.
  3. ^ "The Shins Hit The Fans, Sub Pop Calls In The Sheriff", Idolator
  4. ^ Mayfield, Geoff (24 March 2007). "Third No.1 For B.I.G.;Arcade Fire Rises Higher". Billboard. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  5. ^ "Pretty Ricky, Shins Grab Top Album Chart Spots". Billboard. Retrieved January 31, 2007.
  6. ^ Jonathan Cohen, "Better 'Late' Than Never: Jones Debuts At No. 1",, February 7, 2007.
  7. ^ "Gold". RIAA. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  8. ^ Peters, Mitchell (7 January 2012). "Bright Eyes". Billboard. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  9. ^ "The Shins Stretching Out On Third Album". Billboard. 24 August 2006. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  10. ^ Rogulewski, Charley (2 December 2005). "The Shins Get Stoned". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  11. ^ "Reviews for Wincing The Night Away by The Shins". Metacritic. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  12. ^ Phares, Heather. "Wincing the Night Away – The Shins". AllMusic. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  13. ^ Murray, Noel (January 23, 2007). "The Shins: Wincing The Night Away". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  14. ^ Rosen, Jody (January 22, 2007). "Wincing the Night Away". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  15. ^ Costa, Maddy (January 26, 2007). "The Shins, Wincing the Night Away". The Guardian. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  16. ^ Powers, Ann (January 27, 2007). "Sleepless nights and singalongs". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  17. ^ Woodhouse, Alan (January 19, 2007). "The Shins: Wincing the Night Away". NME. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  18. ^ LeMay, Matt (January 22, 2007). "The Shins: Wincing the Night Away". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  19. ^ "The Shins: Wincing the Night Away". Q (247): 100. February 2007.
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (January 10, 2007). "Wincing The Night Away". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  21. ^ Kelley, Trevor (January 2007). "They Politely Decline". Spin. 23 (1): 87. Retrieved June 1, 2016.
  22. ^ "The Shins - music review". Austin Chronicle. January 19, 2007. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  23. ^ "The Shins-Wincing the Night Away". New Musical Express. 19 January 2007. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  24. ^ "The Shins - Wincing the Night Away". Dusted. January 24, 2007. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  25. ^ "The Shins-Expectations Too Narrow". Village Voice. January 16, 2007. Retrieved March 13, 2011.

External links[edit]