While James Mercer and the rest of The Shins had been teasing the shindigs out of their fans with only the most fleeting of references to their next album, known then as I Gleek On Your Grave, the good news is that with the arrival of new single, Dead Alive, in November 2016, we had something to go on in the very least. The full record went on to be released ont he 10th March 2017, going on to be named Heartworms, but the opening single had laid down a lot of potential already with a brilliant lo-fi music video to go with it, which you can see below.
The indie pop gem floats on a dream-like cloud throughout with an easy acoustic guitar rhythm and an off-beat synth organ flicker that makes it feel like its swiveling somewhere off the coast of Brazil when it kicks in. It cocks an eyelash at psych, electro and latin elements to take it beyond the confines of more simplistic or traditional indie pop, so it feels comfortable but not without its maverickensian appeal.
The addition of the synth organ interlude is class, adding to the psychedelic feel and acting as a fulcrum to the latter stage elevation of the single. Despite the Dead Alive title and the skeleton marauding the streets in the music video, the track is actually fairly upbeat, almost like a summer single, so it feels a bit at odds with the time of the year, but come spring next year, when we’ll probably have the rest of the album, it’ll really come into its own.
The video is very cool with tongue-in-cheek monster movie horror, b-movie special effects and a psychedelic charm that’s easy to flick on loop. It’s the kind of video that would have picked up a lot of run-time back in the 1990s heyday of gen-X MTV brilliance. The use of small scale models to build the play on perspective that makes up a lot of the video is cinematic kitsch genius.
If you’re hoping to see the band playing Dead Alive live on tour in the UK, the band will be fronting up to a single gig at the Apollo Hammersmith on the 29th March 2017, but with Heartworms out now, there have been a couple of additional dates added later in the year. The first is at the Green Man Festival in Brecon (August 17th – 20th 2017), followed by an Academy Manchester gig on the 22nd August and then Rock City, Manchester on the 23rd August.
The band has also announced its tour van competition, where you can win James Mercer’s first tour van by covering a song from Heartworms, and with the quality of Dead Alive it’s got to be in with a good shout of being the winner’s song pick.
The Shins, Dead Alive single review: 4/5