Hinds have always been a couple of years ahead of their time.
It is nine years since the original ‘Deers’ duo formed in Madrid and six since ‘Bamboo’ made its ripple. The eventual foursome that would become ‘Hinds’ had found two years in between to perfect their brand of garage rock, latching onto trends laid out by The Vaccines, The Libertines, The Black Keys and friends, and reinforced it to last.
And it worked. By 2015, the band were able to release a six-track Best Of EP full of hits known for gracing the pages of the NME and The Guardian. The four girls from Madrid managed to outlive their more-established peers by sticking to a sound that both embraced and subverted ongoing trends; by the time their first album rolled around in 2016, the band had already made a case for their sound and started to draw up ways to grow out of it.
The differences between Leave Me Alone (2016), I Don’t Run (2018) and The Prettiest Curse (2020) are slight, but felt. Today, the original Strokes-esque fuzz that filled in the debut has been stripped, cleaned and reassembled — but maintains the same function. That aloof aesthetic first introduced in ‘Chili Town’ once more finds its place, but the band are keenly ready to evolve, to lean a little harder into the glossier side of their identity. In much the same way that Wolf Alice balances its bad moods with nursery-rhyme sing-song, The Prettiest Curse welcomes the opportunity to juxtapose and contradict.
‘Come Back and Love Me <3’ and ‘This Moment Forever’ are the stronger elements of a record which celebrates its ability to do both; the softer, more reflective moments in the album contrast well with playground chanting, and the moments of stylistic diversity throughout the album make it. Hinds have, in the past, found a good balance of influence and innovation, withholding their ace cards — guitar riffs and Castellano — until the final play. It does not aim to produce ten perfect tens but has, instead, put together something consistent and broadly interesting.
Decidedly, the album feels tightly packaged. Its marketing in the online store reflects the idea that The Prettiest Curse is to be a concept sooner than a collection of distinct tracks; pastel-blue vinyl and cassette tapes home ten exemplary indie rock songs, all fitting within the established two to four minute limits. ‘Burn’ is the obvious example of a cleanly built track, building gradually up to a winding guitar solo with purpose and pace and all the key elements of a good rock song. To be cynical, the only trade off is surprise.
The Prettiest Curse is washy and playful, as you would expect it to be — but it seems to have calculated the need to keep pushing forward. It’s a strong album, deliberate and well composed, but equally ready to cut bits off and start the process all over again.
Words by James Reynolds