At a moment in history where time feels totally out of sync due to the pandemic and political unrest happening simultaneously, The Shins are here to put grandiose feelings into words. Or at least that’s the intent of “The Great Divide”, their first official release in over two years and a single they’re describing as “a blend of futurism and nostalgia.”
“We used everything from vintage synthesizers to iPhones, from a sixties Ludwig kit to an 808,” said frontman James Mercer in a statement. “It’s an epic about longing and love in a broken world. I guess we wanted to try to provide a bit of warmth and sentiment in hard times.”
“The Great Divide” sounds like The Shins filtered through an electronic remix. Mercer’s voice shines through pure as ever while digitized handclaps and buzzy synths wiggle into view like sine waves. Despite having so many electronic influences, the song still has the innate warmth of a song by The Shins, in part thanks to the blissful melody that guides the track.
In the song’s accompanying music video, directed by by Paul Trillo, a surreal landscape goes big while still hitting home. By creating the equivalent of an infinite zoom, Trillo built a visual that stretches through neon graphics, religious imagery, natural landscapes, and pretty much everything that’s ever appeared on this planet in continuous motion. It makes for a hypnotic video that feels at once familiar and brand new. Watch it below.
The Shins dropped their last album Heartworms in 2017 and followed it up with a reimagined rework of the same LP in 2018. Since then, they shared two standalone tracks in honor of their late touring member Richard Swift, re-released the long out-of-print songs “When I Goose-Step” and “The Gloating Sun”, and Mercer himself stopped by Colbert‘s virtual studio to perform “My Resolve” with Bruce Hornsby.