Review | Hinds breathe familiar life into rock on Leave Me Alone


Leave Me Alone

[Lucky Number]

If we can set aside the consistently patronising bullshit and all of the depressing stuff Chrissy Hynde keeps saying, one could argue that female-driven rock is perhaps in a better place than it ever has been. The much-needed and rather accomplished re-emergence of Sleater-Kinney last year was as welcoming as it was timely.

In the late 90s, the band was an all-girl anomaly both in terms of terms of gender and style whose back-to-basics abrasion stood out during alternative rock’s apex. Now, they can enjoy the fruit of their spoils as they reunite in an environment that they helped cultivate. At a time when people love to question the seemingly ever-inevitable death of the genre, it of course has to coincide with a wealth of womanly talent emerging. With groups like Alvvays and Warpaint becoming cult favourites and the likes of EX HEX and Savages being the closest and best of Sleater-Kinney’s spiritual successors, it appears that it’s the women – not the men – who might just ensure the continued existence of the rock band at festivals.

Spanish quartet Hinds are just another addition to this increasingly long list of illustrious lady rockers. Like Sleater-Kinney before them, this is a group who find success by taking guitar-led popular music back to its late 60’s roots. Instead of championing mid-period Rolling Stones however, Hinds’ debut recalls the more mainstream side of art-rock groups like The Velvet Underground. At its best, Leave Me Alone’s droning bass work, deadpan vocals and chiming guitars evokes the jaunty belligerence of songs like ‘Waiting For My Man’. Mini breakout ‘Bamboo’ has a bouncy charm that’s tinged with enough late 60’s despondent bite that it could be eligible to be played over the end credits of a Mad Men episode. It’s a bitterly infectious song and the impassive delivery of “I need you to feel like a man while I give you all I can” could easily soundtrack Don Draper’s fragile masculinity as he looks forlornly out of a rainy window.

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Of course, the more contemporary influences are there too. Opener ‘Garden’ boasts riffs that might make Alex Turner seriously consider legal action while the duelling vocal team of Carlotta Cosials and Ana García Perrot can sound like two Julian Casablancas vying for record space. ‘San Diego’, another highlight, is a punchy mid-noughties reference of a track that sounds like The Libertines where Pete Doherty lies somewhere between the extremes of tediously sober and flagrantly fucked up. It’s on moments like this that we catch Hinds at their most effective, a band working cohesively and having fun as they fully commit to these stellar – if not wholly original – songs.

Leave Me Alone is certainly built around these tracks but as an album the other songs can blend into one another a little bit. Lyrically speaking, its’s kind of like the words to a One Direction album filler  have been given a few dodgy goes through Google Translate and they’ve printed the Frankenstein’s monster of a result: “How many secrets you have, that you keep smiling that way / you better start to behave?”. If one is to be honest, Hinds have a sound that calls to mind so much other bands that it’s hard to say if they’ve managed to create any real identity for themselves.

Not that these are complete misfires, but some are just indistinguishable enough that they you could see them being used to sell semi-affordable Vauxhalls or provide some unobtrusive background noise at a trendy, fashion retailer. But even if the cutesy indie-vibe of something like ‘I’ll Be Your Man’ might one day accompany your purchasing of a 25 quid plain white T-shirt at Topshop, it shouldn’t take away from the undeniable and affable charm of the song.

Leave Me Alone may be in the lesser tier of this healthy climate of the all-female rock group but considering some of the quality on display, that fact in and of itself can only be a good thing. It speaks volumes not about the shortcomings of the Hinds story so far but rather about the impressiveness of the field that surrounds them. I hope for a future of genderless music but there are too many snooty think pieces produced every second day for that to be a reality any time soon. Leave Me Alone is no doubt a solid start to Hinds’ career and continues to prove, if nothing else, that female-driven rock is currently in the best place it has ever been.