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The Shins Deal With Becoming Minor Celebrities

Critics’ darlings The Shins are riding high on the attention they received from their contributions to the Zach Braff film Garden State as they continue to work on their third album.

The group have been working on the new disc, tentatively titled Sleeping Lessons, with producer Phil Ek (Modest Mouse, Built To Spill, Pretty Girls Make Graves) at Shins singer James Mercer’s home studio in Portland, Oregon. The quartet now have 15 tracks for the follow-up to 2003’s critically acclaimed Chutes Too Narrow and the songs used in Garden State from their Oh, Inverted World debut. Though Mercer told MTV News that things could change, current track titles include “Phantom Limb,” “A Comet Appears” and “Cave Of The Ice Giants.”

“Everything is still pretty tentative,” says Mercer. “I’m still working on lyrics, but those are pretty much the last things I do anyway.

“But right now the goal is to have the album out in like July or August. I know we’re supposed to submit it to Sub Pop on April 1st, and I know that’s April Fools’ Day, but hopefully that won’t prove indicative of the album.”

While Mercer doesn’t have to worry about constantly being chased by paparazzi or having his personal life splashed across the pages of tabloids, he’s gradually getting used to the increased profile — and the accompanying higher expectations — that The Shins are now faced with.

“We’re just working on songs at my house, and it’s easy to feel forgotten about,” says Mercer. “But the other day I went into a coffee shop and they were playing a Shins song and it was like, ‘Wow, people are anxiously waiting to hear new music from us.’

“And it makes you better, because you always feel like you have to prove yourself.”