Album Reviews - Reviews

Hinds – Leave Me Alone


Welcome to 2016. It’s a new year with new opportunities to be realised, new landscapes to be traversed and new ideas to be formed. So what better way to kick off this new and exciting twelve month period than with a delightfully fuzzy throwback album that wraps itself up in the sweet sounds of the 1960s. Leave Me Alone, the debut LP from Madrid’s Hinds, is covered head to toe in a profoundly retro lustre, taking a homemade lo-fi jangle rock sound and filtering it through The Velvet Underground. While the weight of the influences can be overbearing, it is an undeniably charming and fun introduction to the group who have the songs to back up their hype.

One of the band’s great strengths is the unmistakable joy and playfulness that runs deep throughout the record. This is party music, the kind of party with a bottle of Buckfast and the mid June sun. ‘Warts’ has an absolutely killer central riff that seems almost tailor made for relaxation at the golden hour, while “Enjoy” is a slice of intensely endearing pop goodness with a perfectly judged solo. The album runs on two modes: fuzzy, garage rock n’ roll and slower, woozier jams which punctuate the former to great effect like on the instrumental ‘Solar Gap’. These more introspective moments ensure the album never veers into flippancy of flimsiness. When they need to, the four piece are willing to allow of trickle of emotional vulnerability to break through.

Another facet of the group is impossible to ignore are the vocals. The group use their two vocalists’ conflicting styles to great effect managing to marry the Sleater-Kinney’s earth shattering vocal interplay and the sweeter-than-sweet harmonies of the Phil Spector girl groups or the Shangri Las. ‘Chili Town’ and ‘Bamboo’ are two excellent examples of this, but it’s on ‘And I Will Send Your Flowers Back’ that this style reaches its zenith; a beautiful mixture of hushed whispers and powerful stoicism.

The record’s lo-fi affectations are enormously captivating. At no point does the band vie for any kind of flawless, hyper polished sheen; vocals distort and instruments are coated in noisy filth. The handmade nature of the songs lends them this kind of rawer edge that not only humanizes the band but makes its sheer infectious nature shine through. In spite of the record’s obvious debt to the VU and its atmospheric dirt, it is, at its heart, a pop album; one of inclusiveness and shared enjoyment. They feel like the sort of songs some idealised interpretation of your friends might play at a house party, in between rounds, that somehow manages to nail that delicate tightrope of shambolic precision.

The main failing of the group is that they buckle under the weight of their retro preoccupation at times. This is the case on a track like ‘Bamboo’, a surf rock, girl group number, which apes styles but can find little else to do with them.  But overall it is an irresistible and charismatic debut with a confidence and self-assuredness that is surprising to see on such a new band. The soundtrack of Summer 2016 already has a standout record. Will Murphy