I was contemplating starting this review off with an apology. However, I then changed my mind to make it a confession. I remembered that the primary aim of this was to be an album review, not my personal commentary. So, let’s get to the review of this album before I explain my relationship with it.
‘Leave Me Alone’ is the debut album from Spanish garage rock band Hinds. They formed back in 2011 as a duo consisting of Carlotta Cosials and Ana García Perrote under the name of Deers. After a year and a half hiatus, Deers reformed in 2013, with Ade Martín on bass and Amber Grimbergen on drums being added the following year. However, in early 2015, Deers was forced to change their name to Hinds after a lawyer representing the Canadian band Dears threatened the Spanish quartet with a lawsuit. Since then, Hinds has gained quite a following in the indie/garage rock scene, playing at numerous festivals across the world and opening for acts such as The Libertines and The Black Lips.
After listening to this album several times, it’s clear why they’ve become so popular. Their music falls very firmly into the garage rock and jangle pop categories which are very popular styles in the indie music world at the moment. In fact, it’s no surprise that they cite Mac Demarco, a hugely successful garage rock/jangle pop musician, as one of their biggest influences. However, like many of their contemporary artists, their sound doesn’t change much from this tried and tested formula. What is this formula? The opening track ‘Garden’ exemplifies it. The two guitars are slightly overdriven and have the ‘jangle’ surf rock sound which very common in this genre. When the two singers start, their vocal tracks are also slightly overdriven which gives the album more of a raw feel (another common feature of garage rock/jangle pop). The chorus follows a pretty standard 1-5-4 chord progression though the verses and pre-chorus do move away from this. What I’ve just mentioned are the common musical themes throughout this album.
There are a few songs which do deviate from this though. The song ‘Castigadas En El Granero’ has a darker and more mysterious sound to the rest of the album. The next song ‘Solar Gap’ is a laid back instrumental track with minimal percussion. ‘Bamboo’ (which initially appeared on Deers’ demo back in 2014) features the acoustic and electric guitars working tandem. The guitars go completely acoustic two tracks later in ‘I’ll Be Your Man’ which with only has a tambourine for percussion and overall sounds like a demo that was done on a hand-held cassette recorder. Other than these songs that I’ve just mentioned, pretty much every other one on the album uses the same formula that was established in ‘Garden’. Indeed, I feel that this is the album’s greatest downfall. Hinds have basically taken these musical elements common to most garage rock/jangle pop bands and stuck with them without much deviation.
Upon reading this, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I didn’t enjoy listening to this album. However, after reviewing these negative points, what confuses me is that I actually had a lot of fun listening to it. Even more confusing is the fact that I still enjoyed it even though Carlotta’s and Ana’s singing is very often out of tune. Why isn’t this a problem? Because the album sounds fun! It sounds like a group of girls who decided to have some fun writing and playing music and then decided to have some fun recording it in a studio. In fact, before I even saw the music video for their cover of ‘Davey Crockett’ by Thee Headcoatees, this is exactly how I had pictured Hinds in my head.
The fact that Hinds’ lyrics aren’t too edgy or confrontational also helps with the fun attitude of the album, focussing on popular themes such as relationships, the ending of relationships and flirting. It’s also clear that English is not their first language, with a few rather oddly constructed sentences and mispronounced words. However, as with the other aspects of this album, the band hasn’t let a simple language barrier get in the way of them having fun making music. In fact, Hinds haven’t let anything get in the way of making a fun album to listen to. This is why I enjoyed listening to this album so much and why I eagerly anticipate their show in Brisbane this April.
Right, now with the review out of the way, I can get to that confession that I talked about at the beginning. When it comes to discovering new music, my favourite tool is the music streaming service Spotify. I go to the new releases section and have a bit of a browse for something that I’d like to discover. Earlier this year I did just that and came across ‘Leave Me Alone’. Why did I choose this album over all the others which had just been released? Because the album cover features four incredibly attractive women. After I realised why I had chosen this album I felt somewhat guilty. In fact, this is similar to how I discovered the Scottish synthpop band Chvrches. While browsing 4chan (I make no apologies) I saw a picture of their almost-impossibly-cute singer Lauren Mayberry and decided that I just HAD to check out their music. After I listened to and subsequently bought their debut album ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’, I then considered Chvrches to be ‘the band that introduced me to electronic music’ instead of ‘the band with the incredibly gorgeous lead singer’. The ways in which I discovered Chvrches and Hinds made me feel guilty to some extent. After all, exploiting women’s attractiveness is something that the music industry is frequently criticised for doing.
However, I’ve decided that I shouldn’t feel guilty. After all, I’m a heterosexual male and it’s only natural for images of attractive women to grab my attention. Am I objectifying Hinds? I don’t think so. The reason I’m keen to see them in April is not so I can gawk at four incredibly attractive Spanish indie girls, but because I’m looking forward to seeing them perform their music and having a really fun time while being surrounded by like-minded fans. Has my discovery of Hinds played into the music industry’s objectification of women? Again, I’ve put my worries to rest on that one. Go back up the the top of this page and look at the album cover and notice what they’re wearing. The band themselves have even stated that they much prefer wearing large t-shirts and jeans as opposed to more ‘girly’ clothes. If their record label made them wear tight revealing dresses for their photo shoot against their will then that would certainly be objectifying. Their current album cover (in my opinion) is not. So, I decided that I shouldn’t apologise for how I discovered Hinds. It’s simply commentary on how the straight male brain works, hence my confession instead of apology for choosing this album based on the band members on the album cover. However, I’m glad that the album cover grabbed my attention, otherwise I wouldn’t have discovered this band which would have meant, well, not having so much fun listening to their music.