“The Great Divide”



Now an age has come out of the loneliness
Your hand in mine
The great divide
The blind collective mind of man is all they’re offering
Then you bring a breath of life out of the emptiness
Your hand in mine

The Shins break an extended silence with the viscerally beautiful new song “The Great Divide.” The first official release from the band in over two and a half years, “The Great Divide” is available now via James Mercer’s own label Aural Apothecary and Monotone Records across all digital platforms.

Co-written and produced by James Mercer, Jon Sortland and Yuuki Matthews, “The Great Divide” is, in Mercer’s words, “A blend of futurism and nostalgia. We used everything from vintage synthesizers to iPhones, from a sixties Ludwig kit to an 808.” In Mercer’s unmistakable style, the lyrics of the song tap into humanity’s current collective angst, against a backdrop of reassuring melodies that evoke both bracing freshness and comforting familiarity. “It’s an epic about longing and love in a broken world,” says Mercer. “I guess we wanted to try to provide a bit of warmth and sentiment in hard times.” 

“The Great Divide” video is also available to be experienced visually, directed by Paul Trillo with creative direction from Jon Sortland and production provided by Hunters House Entertainment Group. “While the track feels intimate lyrically,  the performance called for something visually vast in scale,” says Sortland. 

“For me,” says Trillo, “‘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.” 

Watch the full video here:

Additionally, a “Flipped” version of “The Great Divide” is available exclusively via Amazon Music. “The Great Divide (Flipped)” continues a tradition that began with 2017’s Heartworms, which was “Flipped” into a companion album entitled The Worm’s Heart, featuring every song from Heartworms reimagined, re-recorded and released as alternate versions. “The Great Divide (Flipped)” appears on the Stay Indie playlist, or via request by asking  “Alexa play the Amazon Original by The Shins” in the Amazon Music app for iOS and Android and on Alexa-enabled devices. 

“When the Shins do a ‘flipped’ version of a song,” Mercer explains, “the goal is always to re-approach the production aesthetic and show a different side to the piece. The idea is that a song properly written can be framed in many different contexts and still remain engaging. Yuuki Matthews, Jon Sortland and I sat down and talked about how we could change things up. The original idea was to treat it like a piano ballad but that soon gave way to Yuuki‘s moody post new wave treatment. I immediately loved it and so the direction was established. When we flip a song correctly you should have a hard time picking which version you like best!” 

You trace the lines through space and time
Until you find they all align
You give to me
A memory
Just a melody
I have to sing.

– “The Great Divide”