Hinds: Leave Me Alone

Scott Wallace
2nd Jan 2016

That Madrid four-piece Hinds (formerly Deers) have been stuck (not inaccurately) with such labels as “lo-fi” and “D.I.Y.” actually undersells their distinct brand of fun, fuzzy rock ‘n’ roll. Not content with four chord song structures and shout along choruses, the songs on their debut record Leave Me Alone are actually tightly constructed but effortlessly performed pieces full of intriguing twists and turns.

Opener “Garden” sets the scene perfectly, with sudden shifts in tempo and rhythm that send the song careening in the opposite direction from where you may be expecting it to go. Throughout the track, though, which ends on an exuberant, sing-along refrain, Hinds never lose sight of the effervescent sense of joy that runs through the album. In another bands’ hands, these songs may have seemed fussy, but Hinds imbue everything they touch with a freewheeling easiness that is very becoming.

Beyond the fuzzy guitars and thumping backbeat that are the album’s sturdy spine, Hinds also indulge in charmingly sloppy group vocals and embellishments like the indistinct hum and rock ‘n’ roll glossolalia that bring early highlight “Warts” to a close, or the overlapping call-and-response of the wonderful single “Castigadas en el Granero”. There is a beguiling confidence to the record that belies the group’s apparent youthfulness and the amateurish implication of the tropes of the genre in which Hinds are working.

Perhaps the record is not as immediate as it could be, with some tracks losing their hooks to the band’s ambitious arrangements. The limited sonic palette of the record means that some of its songs, even the stronger ones, have a tendency to fade into the background. However, it also throws into sharp relief the more adventurous moments, like the lovely instrumental “Solar Gap” and its barely-there chimes, which provides a refreshing change of pace in the record’s centre.

By the time the reverb-drenched reverie “Bamboo” rolls around in the second half of the album, Hinds have more-or-less emptied their bag of tricks, but the songs remain charming and smart slices of pop. Given a chance to shine outside of the context of the album, each one is a three-minute slab of sunshine. In fact, the band should be commended for sustaining this kind of mood over the full length of the album without it becoming cloying or seeming affected.

As an introduction to Hinds, Leave Me Alone is terrific, showcasing the band’s distinct skills and irresistible personality. Wide-eyed and excited just to be playing music together, at their best Hinds create absolute magic. At their worst they merely show fierce promise and ambition. It’s “lo-fi,” but never lazy, and “D.I.Y.” while sounding like a wholly communal effort, which is pretty special.

Leave Me Alone is out on CD, vinyl and digital formats on Friday January 8th. Band photo by Aaron Serrano.