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Album Review – Hinds: Leave Me Alone

The album cover for Leave Me Alone by Hinds

Meet Hinds: the kickass all-female fourpiece contemporary music needs, but probably doesn’t deserve.

They’re unlikely heroines, too, hailing from Madrid despite their modernized west coast garage sound. The last few years saw them conquer South by Southwest, hone their sound through a grueling touring schedule, and flip lo-fi rock’s dude-dominated script, all while making a few recognizable friends.

And while the group is already being hailed for subverting the gender politics of their own scene, don’t write them off as some flash-in-the-pan feminist buzz band. In fact, forget about gender altogether for a moment. Leave Me Alone is a smart and self-assured first effort, bursting with memorable guitar work and clever songwriting. Full stop. End of story.

Okay, remember gender once more, seeing as it informs and shapes Leave Me Alone. Lyrically, Hinds write for and about their own, giving voice to the confusion, heartache and plethora of cognitive dissonances that plague Millennial womanhood. What Bikini Kill did for a generation of teen girls – tell them that their minds, hearts and souls mattered – Hinds seek to repeat and update for twenty-something women. Line after line winds through the confusing tangle of love, sex, agency, vulnerability and power. But Hinds don’t bother asking the rather Second Wave question of whether or not women can have it all. Instead they wonder aloud at what to make of what women already have.

There’s heartache and longing to spare, but Hinds remain uninterested in shirt-tugging romantic anguish or grandiose woman-spurned declarations of revenge. The love present on Leave Me Alone is messy – quite literally on “I Will Send Your Flowers Back” during the line, “I found your gum in my mouth” – and, as such, rather normal. Extra points to the lo-fi production for acting as a textbook example of form matching lyrical content.

Musically, their songwriting prowess holds its own alongside their lyricism. This is never more apparent then when they eliminate lyrics altogether, like on “Solar Gap”, a tender instrumental track bathed in the muted seventies hues of a Sofia Coppola film. At two and a half minutes, it’s a shrewd pacing decision; the song acts as a moment of repose spent drifting in a hammock, a welcome pause at the midpoint prior to energetic and cheeky standout “Chili Town”.

Careful never to reveal all their cards at once, Hinds surprise with an unexpected tempo change or melodic detour throughout. Their commitment to switching things up results in an occasionally uneven listen, and their learning how to allow a song adequate time to unfold remains a lesson in progress. Give it time, Hinds. And the rest of us ought to give Hinds time to grow into their enormous potential.

So here’s to 2016, and that this is only the beginning of a long and stellar career from Hinds, and that Leave Me Alone is just the first of a long list of stellar albums released this year. Salud!

 

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Elle is a writer and art student based in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter: @ellecoxon

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