The Shins – “The Great Divide”

After the Shins released Heartworms in 2017, they followed it up with The Heart’s Worm, an album comprising “flipped” versions of the same songs. They’re back today with their first new song since, and this one has a flipped companion piece too.

“The Great Divide” (not to be confused with “Weird Divide“) presents James Mercer’s signature pop-rock with a thwacking drum machine rhythm I’d almost call a trap beat, but not quite. Mercer calls it “a blend of futurism and nostalgia. We used everything from vintage synthesizers to iPhones, from a sixties Ludwig kit to an 808.” The song has a video by Paul Trillo, who also offered a statement: “We knew we wanted to craft something as grand as the song; something that was both wildly surreal yet also resonates on a human level. I wanted to place the current state of things, this ‘Great Divide’ we’re going through, within the larger context of the universe.”

The flipped version of “The Great Divide,” an Amazon exclusive, scales back the digital bombast, leaving Mercer’s voice to float in the wide open gulf left behind. More from Mercer:

When the Shins do a “flipped” version of a song, the goal is always to re-approach the production aesthetic and show a different side to the piece. The idea is that a song properly written can be framed in many different contexts and still remain engaging. Yuuki Matthews, Jon Sortland and I sat down and talked about how we could change things up. The original idea was to treat it like a piano ballad but that soon gave way to Yuuki‘s moody post new wave treatment. I immediately loved it and so the direction was established. When we flip a song correctly you should have a hard time picking which version you like best!

Hear both versions of the song below.