If there’s one word that people tend to use to describe Hinds, it’s ‘fun’. Ever since they started to make a name for themselves back in 2014 with some charmingly lo-fi demos and a string of joyfully chaotic gigs, everything that the Madrid quartet have done seems to have been shot through with a glorious sense of pure enjoyment. Even when they were legally forced to change their name from Deers (following objections from the Canadian band The Dears), they did so with a charmingly self-effacing hand-written note proclaiming “Let’s take this with a smile”.
And there’s certainly a lot of smiles to be had listening to their debut album, Leave Me Alone. It’s the sound of four friends who have obviously spent a lot of time together hanging out and playing music, and that chemistry is in evidence from the first rallying cry of “I can take you dancing” on the opening track Garden. The vocals between Carlotta Cosials and Ana Perrote blend together perfectly, while the music is jangly, fuzzy and, yes, fun. It may not be the most original racket you’ll hear all year, but it’s one of the most intoxicating. At their best, Hinds are the sort of band who make you want to go out, buy a guitar and form a band with some friends – the infectiously catchy San Diego bustles with energy and attitude, while the reverb-soaked guitar riffs and vocal interplay of Bamboo still sounds as good as it did when first released on their debut EP.
There’ll also be plenty of admirers of Fat Calmed Kiddos’ disorientating time changes and the woozy ’60s garage ballad Easy. Yet there’s another side to Hinds, which may take a few listens to emerge. The album’s cover may portray one of them knocking back a bottle of beer, but they’re not just a party band. There’s an anger buried under the surface of the sad, stripped-back And I Will Send Your Flowers Back (possibly the best example of the contrast between Cosials and Perrote’s voices), and the aforementioned Bamboo has lyrics about a disintegrating relationship that swing from wryly funny (“I know you’re not hungover today, you’re classifying your cassettes”) to heartbreakingly poignant (“I need you to feel like a man when I give you all I am”). Leave Me Alone isn’t perfect, and it probably won’t appeal to everyone: ironically, its greatest strength – that charming, lo-fi, slightly ramshackle quality – is also its biggest weakness as it leads to a lack of focus.
Sometimes, it feels like the album’s just wandering from one jangly mid-paced song to the next, and the inclusion of the surf-guitar style instrumental Solar Gap severly disrupts the record’s momentum. It’s also fair to say that Cosials’ vocals may rub some up the wrong way: on certain occasions, her voice breaks into an uncomfortable sounding shriek. Yet these seem like minor quibbles; while Leave Me Alone has its flaws as an album, it’s the perfect summation of where Hinds find themselves at the moment. And when the sunny riffs of Castigadas En El Granero kick in, you’ll want to follow them to see where they’re going in the future.