I find it hard to fathom that it was five whole years ago, in January 2016, that Hinds’ LP Leave Me Alone debuted.
I remember its release well. I was a single unemployed graduate, you know the story – emotionally vulnerable, unsure, lost in life. I had heard a couple of Hinds songs, and thought they were cool as hell. An all-female Spanish indie quartet, their sound was part garage-rock, lo-fi and almost distorted, and part pop-rock – guitar-laden ballads. But Leave Me Alone made Hinds more than just a cool underground band, but a musical force to be reckoned with. The relatable lyrics strewn throughout the LP added nuance to Hinds’ ‘fun’ and nonchalant image, as they grappled with deeper topics of heartbreak and unrequited love. I will always remember this 38 minute whirlwind of an album, as its fuzzy, slap-dash style and passionate but often resigned lyrics resonated with my situation, and it has only grown more endearing with each listen.
From the album’s opener track ‘Garden’, Hinds come out swinging with a solid rock & roll-esque riff which cannot be ignored. The band’s talents in this respect are envious; they obviously have a mastery of their instruments and have developed melodic symmetry with each other. This speaks to the longstanding close relationships between the four bandmates Carlotta Cosies, Ana Perrote, Ade Martín and Amber Grimbergen. Watch any of their live performances or music videos to get a real feel for the closeness of their friendship. The singing throughout secures Hinds’ personal style – with slurred, messy vocals which can give the dual impression that singers Cosials and Perrote are on the edge of a nervous breakdown, or hopelessly in love as they breathlessly whisper sweet nothings into the mic. Maybe both. A harmony is created out of the chaos; indeed, the alternation between grungy screaming and smooth serenades, and the symmetry between the two techniques, is Hinds’ most precious and enduring characteristic.
But it is the lyrics which always hit home on this LP, starting out strong from the offset: “how many secrets you have / that keep you smiling that way?” Leave Me Alone is a treasure trove of words speaking to a time of emotional confusion and malaise with love. The album generally strikes an upbeat and casual tone, which contrasts with the often heartbreaking lyrics. This is apparent most on the playful but lyrically gloomy track ‘Chili Town’ (“I am flirting with this guy / just to pretend I’m fine”) or on the more raucous single ‘San Diego’, which peaks with the emotional burst of “We didn’t even say goodbye!” These are rich examples of the way Hinds’ lyrics display a certain kind of passionate and positive vulnerability, putting a thoughtful and engaging spin on the topic of lost love.
The track ‘Fat Calmed Kiddos’ can be seen as a microcosm of Hinds’ melodic style in general: its rocky build-up is interrupted by sudden tempo shifts, which tease and tantalise, never moving in predictable directions. Hinds are very much their own band, further proven by their two albums since Leave Me Alone debuted, which have only cemented their authentic sound and consistent efforts. That being said, they are most often compared to The Strokes, given that lo-fi, unpolished sound. After re-listening to Leave Me Alone, The Libertines in their prime also comes to mind, as well as sprinklings of the more dreamy rock/pop band Alvvays. Hinds are often labelled surf rock, but this only functions as a generalised catch-all term, since they have successfully etched out their niche – foolhardy garage rock, with wavy, almost psychedelic elements, and of course that carefree Spanish flair.
The album ultimately treats us to a variety of tracks without damaging the bigger picture of Hinds as a group in themselves. ‘Solar Gaps’ is notable as the only track without vocals, instead letting an impressive instrumental score give off vibes of melancholic nostalgia. Each song is a short, energetic journey due to their non-linear structures, yet they meld so well with each other that the album is better off listened to in its entirety, each time. I strangely still think of Hinds as a new band, which says more about my collective memory of the last five years than anything, but revisiting their debut is always a delight – not to see how far they have come since but to hear how, even at the start of their mainstream success, their intriguing and individual style was already apparent.
Words by Tommy Hodgson
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