After catching the world's attention with three increasingly popular, critically acclaimed records, the Shins find themselves at a threshold. Scores of bands have proceeded past the third-album mark with varying degrees of success. What's next for the Shins?

Ladder The R.E.M. Option

Make a fourth album called Portland's Rich Pageant.

Plan of attack: Turn up the guitars, make the drummer hit harder, write lyrics explicitly dealing with the state of the world, and officially gun for the title of America's greatest band.

Denouement: After a decade of success, the drummer leaves and things get fuzzy, but the band's eternal reputation is secured.

Chute The Oasis Option

Keep releasing variations of the same record unto eternity, to no discernible effect.

Join forces with Calvin Klein to launch the Shins scent, So Smells I.

The Talking Heads Option Ladder

Make a fourth album called Remaining in Light Is Creepy.

Plan of attack: Hook up with Brian Eno (sorry, Phil Ek), incorporate elements of world music, conquer the globe with brilliance.

Denouement: After touring all over tarnation with the lead singer in a giant suit, then ditching the world-music influence for a faux-folk influence, the band are undone by their pretentious frontman and slide into negligibility, although their early reputation endures.

Play selves in Garden State 2: Bipolar Boogaloo.

Chute The Def Leppard Option

Drummer loses arm.

Ladder The Pavement Option

Make a fourth album called Brighten the Night Away.

Plan of attack: And then another album, and another, each less popular than the last, then disband, releasing singer/primary songwriter to a less successful but still generally interesting solo career.

Denouement: Band's eternal reputation as "meaningful" secured; solo lead singer's, not so much.

Become a recurring Bumbershoot mainstage afternoon act.

Chute The Guns N' Roses Option

Power-mad control-freak lead singer hijacks band name, locks himself in a studio for 10,000 years, and emerges periodically to horrify humanity with his surgically enhanced head and nightmare dreadlocks. Functional other members flee to new band that's not anywhere near as good as the original, but at least they're doing something.

Lend songbook to choreographer Twyla Tharp for Broadway musical revue Oh, Inverted Theater!

Ladder The Belle & Sebastian Option

Make a fourth album called Get on Your High Horse, Girl, You Walk Like a Pilgrim.

Plan of attack: Keep releasing variations of the same record unto eternity, maintaining a core group of fans and steady level of critical respect, along with a core group of detractors who simply can't be bothered.

Denouement: Pending.

Agree to perform Super Bowl halftime show with Paula Abdul–-directed backup dancers.

Chute The Lynyrd Skynyrd Option

Keep on rocking like total motherfuckers, then three days after the release of a fifth album, board a plane bound for a show in Louisiana and crash in a swampy Mississippi forest. Three members of the band die on impact. Ten years later, the survivors revive the band, to limited effect.