The Shins haven't released a new album since 2017's Heartworms, but in 2019 they returned with two new songs ("Waimanalo" and "Trapped by the Sea") on a single for the Fug Yep Soundation 7" vinyl series, which was created in memory of the late Richard Swift, and now they've once again released a new song, "The Great Divide," which is their first "official" single since Heartworms. Shins leader James Mercer co-wrote and produced it with Jon Sortland and Yuuki Matthews, and James calls it "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," he continues. "I guess we wanted to try to provide a bit of warmth and sentiment in hard times." It is indeed a warm song, and you can very much hear the futurism/nostalgia blend James speaks of. The single is out now via James' own label Aural Apothecary and Monotone Records, and it comes with a Paul Trillo-directed video that you can watch below.

There's also a "flipped" version of "The Great Divide" available exclusively at Amazon Music, that strips the song back to a more low-key arrangement. "When the Shins do a 'flipped' version of a song,” Mercer says, “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!” Listen to that below as well.

Earlier this year, James Mercer also sang on the new Bruce Hornsby album.