I am normally dubious of all projects in which the various members of a band each write songs, and then the band gets blame for the result. There's usually a reason why bands have primary songwriters, and much musical badness can result when sidemen rise above their station.
Fortunately, then, The Shipping News is composed of three guys who all have a knack for indie-rock songwriting. This CD (which compiles a series of singles the band released as part of this "fighting Beatles" style of solo songwriting experiment) run the gamut from not-bad to very good. While there's nothing too stunning to be found on Three-Four, there's also nothing really sub-par. There are weepy, minor-key acoustic ballads ("Sickening Bridge versus Horrible Bed"), electronica-and-organ inflected lo-fi ("Paper Lanterns"), and, of course, indie-rock squonk fests ("Wax Museum"). There's enough variety that you'll never feel bored, and the music is of a high enough quality that the whole experiment can probably be deemed a success.