In fact, it was so good that it may have raised expectations unfairly for their second album, especially since fans had to wait two and a half years for Chutes Too Narrow. But if the band felt any external pressures while making the album, they must pale in comparison to the emotional pressures Chutes Too Narrow expresses. Restrictions and reversals abound in the Shins' music, from the names of their albums to their short-yet-circular songs and the often contradictory feelings they pack into them. They excel at sounding happy, sad, frustrated, and vulnerable at the same time, and their best songs, whether they're fast or slow, feel like they're bursting with nervous energy. The giddy, almost unearthly bittersweetness that made "Know Yr Onion!" and "New Slang" instant classics isn't immediately evident here; though their previous songs didn't travel obvious paths, Chutes Too Narrow's tracks are even more subtle and roundabout. "I know there is this side of me that wants to grab the yoke from the pilot and fly this whole mess into the sea," James Mercer sings on the winding "Young Pilgrims." Veering off course is a recurring theme on the album, and indeed, Chutes Too Narrow isn't exactly the follow-up to Oh, Inverted World that might have been expected. It's a leaner album -- at just over a half-hour long, there are no interludes or summery atmospheres here. Even the songs that recall Oh, Inverted World, such as the bouncy but brooding "So Says I" and "Mine's Not a High Horse" -- which, with its harmonies and hovering keyboards, is one of the most typically Shins songs on the album -- feel more understated.