- The Shins: James Mercer (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Marty Crandall (keyboards); Dave Hernandez (bass); Jesse Sandoval (drums).
- Additional personnel: Kevin Suggs (pedal steel guitar); Annemarie Ruljiancich (violin).
- Recorded in James Mercer's Basement, Portland, Oregon and Avasti Studio, Seattle, Washington.
- Personnel: James Mercer (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Dave Yanul Hernandez (guitar); Anne Marie Ruljancich (violin); Marty Crandall (keyboards); Jesse Sandoval (drums).
- Audio Mixer: Phil Ek.
- Recording information: Avast! Studio, Seattle, WA (06/2003-07/2003); James Basement, Portland, OR (06/2003-07/2003).
- When the Shins bowled over music fans and critics alike in 2001 seemingly out of nowhere (but actually out of Albuquerque and years of playing together) with OH, INVERTED WORLD, their stunningly beautiful debut, the comparisons came pouring in. Scribes likened their insistent, melodic sound and James Mercer's hyper-literate, oblique but mellifluous lyrics to many mostly anachronistic, all deeply revered sources, including everything from the Beach Boys to Love.
- The follow-up, CHUTES TOO NARROW, meets and often manages to exceed the tremendous, burgeoning buzz surrounding it. Mercer and co. retain all the elements that made their debut delectable, as the melodies flow hither and thither, a subtle rapture confident in its ability to entrance. Delicately crafted yet explosively poetic lines again abound (such as "secretly I want to bury in the yard the grey remains of a friendship scarred"), and by the time the sing-a-long of "So Says I" kicks in, the die is cast. Nestled near the end of the consistently captivating record is the countrified should-be classic "Gone for Good." With its riding-the-rails beat and irrefutable lyrical hook, it seems to sum up the pensive feel of the whole record, "I find a fatal flaw in the logic of love and go out of my head." Such ponderous musings rarely ever sounded so good.
Rolling Stone (12/25/03, p.110) - Included in Rolling Stone's "50 Best Albums of 2003"
Rolling Stone (11/13/03, p.94) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...The Shins...have not only assimilated several decades of Brit rock, chamber pop, and DIY punk but have nonchalantly slipped those influences into their own intricate yet durable musical designs..."
Spin (12/03, p.133) - "...The Shins are reverent and reverential, practically documenting their source material with footnotes..." - Grade: B
Entertainment Weekly (12/26/03-1/2/04, p.140) - Ranked #4 in Entertainment Weekly's 2003 "Records of the Year" - "...[The band is] sharp enough to set Mercer's radiant tunes and keening, affectless voice to the crispest and meatiest of indie rock."
Q (4/04, p.120) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[I]ntelligent, melodic and offbeat - without falling into the trap of being goofy. Have indie rock's saviours arrived?"
Uncut (4/04, p.107) - 4 stars out of 5 - "10 perfect songs constructed from wit, electricity and the broken bones of the heart."
Uncut (p.76) - Ranked #39 in Uncut's "Best New Albums of 2004" - "[With] killer melodies that were as voluptuous as they were wholly original."
Magnet (11/03, p.109) - "...A sonically bolder production with fewer effects and more hooks per square inch than a flyrod factory..."
CMJ (11/3/03, p.9) - "...Making for perfect mixtape material, the quartet now returns with a quieter sophomore effort--one that suits the hunger for a soft, melodic album to provide comfort in the privacy of bedroom listening..."
Mojo (Publisher) (4/04, p.98) - 5 stars out of 5 - "An existential obstacle course. A meditation on the ineffable mysteries of love. An incredible pop record. The second album by The Shins is all this and more....It's a tour de force of concision..."