Review: Leave Me Alone by Hinds

The way Hinds write and perform portrays a very specific caricature: the outgoing kid who hangs in the emo crowd, the hopeless romantic with punk tendencies. Their early demos as Deers (a “hind” is a female deer) hinted at this picture, pairing catchy pop instrumentals and earworm melodies with moaning vocals and lo-fi effects. The result is a band, and a sound, that can’t easily be placed in a specific box, so, they were labelled “indie.” And indeed, Hinds are, in the traditional sense, indie. They’re not signed to a major label and they draw from eclectic influences. Their music can be mined for very specific indie inspirations: A chord from Angel Olsen here, a melody from Mac Demarco there, maybe some cadences borrowed from Ice Age, and Cloud Nothings’ ghost echoing throughout. But Hinds, even with one cursory listen through their debut, Leave Me Alone, distinctly stand out from other indie acts on the rise in 2016.

Hinds’ music strikes the listener as a force to be reckoned with, even on simpler, slower-burning cuts. Their music’s life-force is provided from the vital energy of youth, their sounds are distinctly young. Any of the 12 songs on Leave Me Alone could easily slot into a scene from your favourite nineties high-school movie: ‘Garden’ at the Prom dance, ‘Warts’ during a Summer road trip, ‘Chili Town’ for when our heroes walk away from the destruction of their senior prank. Young adults today are growing up having to face tougher problems at younger ages, and economic and environmental catastrophes are waiting for them as they approach adulthood. This creates an impatient millennial desperation that Hinds perfectly distill on this album: the messages are contradictory and rushed and also the most important thing in the world, delivered as if tomorrow wasn’t a certainty. The two lead singers trade catchy melodies before setting up a vocal ally-oop on the chorus, swapping a carefree tune for a booming hook that doesn’t demand to be heard because it knows you’ll listen. The lyrics mostly deal with love; on ‘Fat Calmed Kiddos’, the singer accosts a partner for lying and drinking, but at the end of the song she begs them “Please don’t leave me.” Hinds fully embrace the inconsistencies, knowing well that being young allows for transition, change, and has room for paradoxes. The gender-role reversing ‘I’ll Be Your Man’ is so sweet that you could put it next to How To Dress Well on your low-fi indie wedding playlist. Hinds harmonise as they promise a lover “I’ll clean your blood of all your venom,” and “I’ll be your guide [guy].” Even on the instrumental track ‘Solar Gap’, the themes are translated into analogue hiss and a longing bassline. And with a title like Leave Me Alone, a song with no words at all says more than songs with actual lyrics on most albums.

On the final track ‘Walking Home’, Hinds break down the titular walk home after being rejected by an unrequited lover. “I didn’t say it to be rude, I said it ’cause it was pure,” they spit over a breezy, Vampire Weekend-soaked-in-reverb instrumental. The album ends with an interruption, a quick fade to silence once Hinds yell “You’re the love of my life!”, which in the context sounds like a burp after an alcohol-aided confession. It’s a touching moment, and a representative one. Leave Me Alone is a bare record, one that can only be made when you systematically break down your walls and lay your emotions on the line. A constant, frenetic energy drives this record, and the consistency of craft and maturity of writing presented on this album would be impressive for seasoned band. But Hinds are only just starting, and I can’t wait to see where they go from here.


Originally published at www.hooksforhands.net on January 26, 2016.

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