Leave Me Alone by Hinds: A Review
The biggest problem with Leave Me Alone, the debut album by Spanish punk four-piece Hinds, has nothing to do with their music. Hinds have made an album full of summer jams, warm, breezy songs that float along on a haze of loose production and wistful guitars, and released it during the grimmest month of the year (Art Angels, released last November, had a similar problem, but if I’m remembering it right that was because of a dispute with the label). I imagine this to be an album best suited to doing something languid on a long August day, like reclining on a bank or enjoying shade, but this isn’t really something that I can prove because if I tried to recline outside right now I’d be cut to ribbons by the estuary winds and left a husk in the sleet, a martyr to my craft.
Fortunately, even outside of its natural environment Leave Me Alone is an excellent album, one which manages to remain unforced and easygoing for its entire runtime without losing any of its momentum. Hinds never leave the lush, sunlit atmosphere which they create in the first five notes, but both the music and the lyrics have a range to them which keeps the songs from dragging. Tracks like Garden and Walking Home, from opposite ends of the album, never quite settle down, constantly shifting gears and throwing in different hooks. Midway through they slow right down for the instrumental Solar Gap. A low-tempo instrumental is a risk, especially on an album this lean, but in practice it’s one of the standout tracks, a moment of calm with a soft, lilting bassline (I assume from Ade Martín) that sustains itself just long enough before dissolving into the second half.
When I say that one of the highlights is an instrumental, I don’t mean that as a slight against the vocals. The dynamic between Ana Perrote and Carlotta Cosials, the band’s two vocalists, is one of the best parts of the album. Neither of them really take the lead – sometimes one rises in the mix and takes over from the other one, or the two bounce lines off of each other, as on San Diego. When a chorus comes round they’ll often belt it out together, not quite in unison, which is great fun. Lyrically, as far as I can make out, maybe nine of the twelve songs are about relationships (and one of the other three is the instrumental), but they find enough breadth in the subject, from the joy of Walking Home to the envy of Warts to the grief of And I Will Send Your Flowers Back, that they’re not just plugging away at a single emotion. If there’s one thing that does tie all these songs together it’s a sense of resilience. There’s an acceptance that bad things are going to happen, which gives the album texture, but this is balanced out by a refusal to let these things crush you. It’s a good way of looking at the world, and a large part of what won me over about Hinds.
Hinds don’t do anything groundbreaking with the genres they draw from, but on Leave Me Alone they do everything that a debut album needs and more. They’ve established a style and shown it can work for forty minutes, but there’s enough diversity to it that they haven’t become trapped in any individual groove. However, more importantly, Leave Me Alone works as more than an opening salvo – it would be a strong album whatever the context, one whose warmth and variety means that it doesn’t sag under the weight of repeat listens.
Read more about Hinds at their website here.