The Shins "Heartworms" and "The Worm’s Heart" Comparison/Album Review

by Sophie Pay

The Shins "Heartworms" and "The Worm's Heart" (Photo by Sophie Pay)

The Shins "Heartworms" and "The Worm's Heart" (Photo by Sophie Pay)

The Shins released their fifth album, Heartworms back in March 2017 and now he has released the album once again, but this time “flipped”, calling it The Worm’s Heart. The order of the songs have been reversed and have a different take to them. This album is a mix of genres, tempo changes, and a lot of drastic transformations.  Heartworms, at its core, is a blend of indie pop and rock that focuses on the life of a lonely person, who reminisces about their past of heartbreak and self discovery; begging for a sense of belonging in the world.

One song that has a very unexpected alternative take is “Half a Million”, which transforms from being heavy on guitar to reggae and slower. The music video for the original version of “Half a Million” had a very creative take with the use of 5,566 stickers in various locations. Meanwhile, “Mildenhall”, which was once country, has turned into a heavy rock song with a groovy organ solo in the middle. Mercer had maintained the melody of the song at a faster pace. It is very evident that the whole album was re-recorded, vocals and all.

The opening track for Heartworms, “Name For You”, gives the album an upbeat feeling with its synth pop take, but ends the album with “The Fear”, which brings a mixture of emotions as it tackles the topic of anxiety. The song is about a missed opportunity and with the album ending with a ukulele, it slowly leads on to mimic the silence that is overtaking him, singing “No, not anymore Not anymore”. On the other hand, The Worm's Heart opened up with “The Fear”, which became heavily distorted and upbeat in comparison to the original, when it was once slowed down and full of melancholy feelings. Although, “Name For You” didn’t replace the feeling that “The Fear” had created for Heartworms, it was rather synthy.

Overall, Heartworms has a slight advantage over The Worm's Heart, as it was able to evoke more emotions out of the listener than the latter.  Although, The Worm’s Heart brought a fresh take on the songs, allowing the listeners to fall in love with the songs in a different way.  Without listening to The Worm's Heart, many may think that it was just a slightly altered version of every song off of Heartworms, yet it was not.

Side note: The album art for The Worm’s Heart is cleverly shown attacking the flowers and turning it to a series of darker colors, the complementary colors of the latter. Just as the album has been altered with and “flipped”, the album art reflects the contents of each album.

Heartworms: 8.5/10 stars

The Worm’s Heart: 7/10 stars