A few things seemed different with the Shins after scoping those photos and setlist from their early tour stop at Seattle’s Showbox: new songs (“Double Bubble” and “The Rifle’s Spiral”), new members, no Sandoval and Crandall. When Jessica spoke with them for a Progress Report, Mercer confirmed it: Marty and Jesse are gone, replaced with Ron Lewis (bass) and Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer, because James Mercer is going for a new sound with his new tunes. “[The songs are] just a bit more rhythmic. They’re kind of about the percussion and stuff. One of them is really angular and chunky. It’s jabs with chords instead of strumming,” he told us. “And then the other one is really rhythmic and has kind of a mod, new wave sound to it.” “Double Bubble” is the mod, new wave one. It’s also his favorite, according to an interview with larecord, because “It’s really fun to play and the audience really likes it. It’s got a good energy to it. It’s fun to dance to, actually, which is really cool.” And he’s right. People were a little skeptical about James’s reasons for the lineup shift, but “Double Bubble” is pretty persuasive; this is the best new Shins song in awhile, and this performance makes the Shins out to be a better live act than you remember.
This hasn’t been set to tape yet, but the Shins are looking at 2010 for a new album on Mercer’s new label Aural Apothacary. This better be on it. In the meantime, James has a track on the Dangermouse/Sparkle Horse/David Lynchy project Dark Night Of The Soul, and makes his acting debut in Matt McCormick’s Some Days Are Better Than Others, due out sometime in 2010. Now let’s hear the mod track. (UPDATE: It’s here.)