The Shins have returned with “The Great Divide,” a timely new single out on frontman James Mercer’s label, Aural Apothecary/Monotone Records.
The band released a video for the track — directed by Paul Trillo with creative direction from Jon Sortland — as well as a “Flipped” version on Amazon Music. It features trippy images floating through time, interspersed with deserted grocery stores and isolated streets. “Now an age has come out of the loneliness,” Mercer sings. “Your hand in mine/The great divide.”
“The Great Divide” was co-written by Mercer, drummer Jon Sortland and bassist Yuuki Matthews. Mercer described the song as “a blend of futurism and nostalgia. We used everything from vintage synthesizers to iPhones, from a Sixties Ludwig kit to an 808. 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.”
Added Trillo: “For me, ‘The Great Divide’ is about coming to a turning point. The theme of the song speaks to this palpable rift we’re all feeling right now. So when Jon Sortland first reached out with a flurry of ideas, I got really excited at what this could be. 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. Like the song itself, it was both timely and timeless. That’s when I sort of stumbled on this idea of an infinite zoom out through time. The song also has this entrancing quality that keeps pulling you in further and further, so that continual motion made a lot of sense.”
The Shins released their fifth LP, Heartworms, in 2017. They also dropped the songs “Waimanalo” and “Trapped by the Sea” in honor of their late bandmate Richard Swift, who died in 2018. Mercer recently appeared on Bruce Hornsby’s new album, Non-Secure Connection.