Monday, January 4, 2016

The First Big Album Of 2016 Is Here: My Review Of Leave Me Alone By Hinds

It's been 2 years of hype, hasn't it? That Hinds, f.k.a. Deers, have been able to weather it says a lot. That they've been able to deliver something that simultaneously lives up to the hype and lives it down says a lot too.

Leave Me Alone, the debut full length from Spain's Hinds, drops on Friday. By now you've probably heard it streaming somewhere, or had a few of the singles burned into your brain already. The album is by turns wildly infectious, catchy beyond belief, and oddly affecting in some quiet ways. The 12 cuts here are all charmers, really.

"Garden" unfurls and unwinds with a dollop of attitude while the delightfully-titled "Fat Calmed Kiddos" offers up the first massive hook of Leave Me Alone. What started as 2 Spanish girls with guitars making videos and generating a buzz some 2 years ago has now turned into a real band of 4 -- Carlotta Cosials and Ana Perrote on vocals and guitars, Ade Martin on bass, and Amber Grimbergenand on the drums -- and nowhere is this more apparent than on this track which is the sort of thing that just makes me smile like an idiot every time I play it.

"Warts" builds slowly on the back of an infectious riff until the vocals of Ana and Carlotta blend in rough harmony and the guitars start to buzz a bit. The effect is, oddly, like some rough, uptight Smiths demo burnished into a party anthem. The yearning "Easy" leads into what is probably my favorite cut on Leave Me Alone, "Castigadas En El Granero" which starts with a few simple riffs and expands into a super-catchy singalong. A nearly plucked guitar-line anchors this cut as Ana and Carlotta trade vocals in the surging chorus. In some weird way, this sounds a tiny bit like the best early Artic Monkeys tracks and for that reason it should be easy to love for indie fans the world over.

Earlier fave singles like "Chili Town", "San Diego", and "Bamboo" are all here, of course (though "Trippy Gum" is not, oddly). And while those cuts remain pop perfection, the pleasant surprises on Leave Me Alone are things like "Solar Gap", a gentle instrumental. Elsewhere, "And I Will Send Your Flowers Back" shows that Hinds are adept at this sort of melancholic stuff, lest one thinks that Leave Me Alone is going to be all party tunes. Similarly, the sultry "I'll Be Your Man" offers up a lilting, simple tune that is quietly affecting and still supremely catchy thanks to the harmonies on the chorus.

Leave Me Alone closes with "Walking Home", a tune that rides a breezy, near-calypso -- of all things -- riff while Ana and Carlotta trade vocals and the songs coasts by as you imagine yourself ordering another mimosa while lounging at the beach.

That description makes it sound as if the music of Hinds is all the sort of thing that one could call party music. And, yeah, while the majority of Leave Me Alone is enormously upbeat and the kind of tune-age that makes a listener smile, it's the smaller moments on Leave Me Alone that reveal Hinds to be real players and a band who'll be around long after the deserved hype over this record dies down. A tinge of sadness in the party rock, like the best moments on that fab Chastity Belt album, adds depth to what would, in other hands, be fluffier songs. Hinds keep things simple and by doing so keep things uniformly perfect and thoroughly affecting. A lack of fussiness has made this album such a pleasure to listen to. Full of immediate hooks and bits of joy throughout, Leave Me Alone is a superb debut album and the sure-footed start of a long career for Hinds. As with all previous releases from this four-some, I simply can't wait to hear what's next.

Leave Me Alone by Hinds is out on Friday. Check your favorite real or virtual music seller to grab it, better to pre-order it now, frankly.

Follow Hinds on their wildly popular official Facebook page, or on the band's official website.