The Shins' first full-length is a definitive indie rock album of the 2000s not just because of its thoughtful, tuneful songs, but also because of the vivid portrait it painted of indie culture. After the high irony of Pavement and other `90s standard bearers, indie rock began moving into more emotionally forthright territory. Oh, Inverted World is the sound of realizing there's more to life than being a smart-aleck -- but also not being ready to open up completely. The album's first song, "Caring Is Creepy," sums up the typical indie response to emotional situations with its title alone, but it also introduces James Mercer's delicate, dryly witty take on that attitude. Hyper-literate lyrics like "It's a luscious mix of words and tricks" suggest someone who's better with words than with feelings, yet Mercer's high, wavering tones -- which are as awkward as they are beautiful -- prove otherwise. Caring might be creepy, but it's hard to avoid; the rest of Oh, Inverted World chronicles this post-ironic vulnerability, wrapping it in jangly guitar pop that echoes the Kinks, Zombies, and Beach Boys. This may not be the most innovative sound, but it makes Mercer's boy meets girl, boy runs away, boy comes back, girl runs away travails all the more familiar and relatable. And, of course, just how good the album's songs are can't be overlooked. "Know Your Onion" practically jumps out of its skin, bursting with British Invasion riffs and angst that goes way beyond adolescence; "New Slang" tempers a yearning that curdles into bitterness with a beautiful melody and a ghostly falsetto coda. More importantly, all of Oh, Inverted World's songs hang together in an immensely satisfying way. "Weird Divide" is a backyard Pet Sounds: its winding melody channels that point in the summer when it's too hot to care much about anything, punctuating it with percussion that evokes incessant sprinklers. An airy feel runs through the album, from "Girl on the Wing"'s bird imagery and pristine harmonies to "Girl Inform Me"'s giddiness to "One by One All Day"'s psychedelic coda. As things wind down, "Your Algebra"'s spooky chamber pop and "The Past and the Pending"'s acoustic musing foreshadow the experiments the Shins undertook on later albums. Oh, Inverted World is so full of ideas and emotions, and so fully realized, that it's hard to believe it's just 33 minutes long. Whether or not the album lives up to the breathless "It'll change your life!" claims made about it in Garden State, the less ironic direction of 2000s indie begins here. ~ Heather Phares
Rolling Stone (8/16/01, p.105) - 3.5 stars out of 5 - "...Their pop songs jangle without being too sunny....These 11 songs whiz by in a gorgeous blur, over far too soon."
Q (May 2002, pp.119-121) - 3 out of 5 stars - "...The Shins fall into the folk category, focusing on hazy Beach Boys pop and swooning Simon & Garfunkel harmonies..."
CMJ (8/01, p.89) - "...Palpable, '60s-influenced jangle pop....one of the most consistently enjoyable takes on Brian Wilson..."
Mojo (Publisher) (1/02, p.68) - Ranked #14 in Mojo's "Best  Albums of 2001".
Mojo (Publisher) (9/01, p.99) - "...[Their] lovely jangly appeal is all their own..."
NME (Magazine) (5/18/02, p.35) - 8 out of 10 - "...Evokes the shimmering coastlines and baked desertscapes of California with a vivid beauty seldom glimpsed since The Beach Boys hung up their surfboards..."
oh inverted world is a beautiful album by the shins, one of my favourite bands. the tracks on here are really diverse which means boredom is out of the picture as ut keeps you entertained. there are upbeat tracks such as girl on a wing and girl inform me then there are nice slow, laid back songs like new slang and caring is creepy. its a great ablum to own
the shins really arent for me, as i find this music to be a bit too sleepy, but i can appreciate how good this album is, with likeable tracks such as girl inform me, which is nice and slow and has some good lyrics. this is a very lyrically driven album, with some nice acoustic like beats in the backround, however it is not really for me
Seems like pretty average pop music to me. I think his voice is one of those that I am never really going to enjoy, a bit high, so pass.
Otherwise, nothing painful or super about this album. Vaguely dreamy sort of background pop that you don't notice a lot, while you are playing it. So, if you are after that, give it a shot, but I don't need to go any further with this band.
oh inverted world is my favourite shins album, chutes too narrow obviously being my second. i can't wait for their new release as i hope it contains much of the same style of msuic on oh inverted world. its a great mix of upbeat songs and relaxed songs. this is perfect for and indie rock lover.