There is something thrilling about music that revels in its imperfection. Some of the best punk and indie bands have, for years, made wildly compelling music that is made only more compelling by its intention imprecision. It is a concept that stands in direct opposition to the polished, pitch-corrected, and pristine sound that dominates so much of the radio waves. Not that high polish and perfectionism are bad either, but there is an energy to those more raw songs and albums. Hinds, the Madrid-based garage rock quartet, demonstrated that kind of energy on their 2016 debut
Leave Me Alone. The lo-fi sound of the album and the easy surf-rock songwriting of tracks like “Bamboo” and “Castigadas en el Granero” made the group uniquely approachable as a listener even if they didn’t have the frills and tight production of some of their contemporaries.
Fast forward to 2018 and
I Don’t Run, Hinds sophomore album. Now with a larger following and the production of Gordon Raphael, producer of the Strokes’ first handful of albums, the group has tightened and cleaned up their sound to a degree. The recording is cleaner and more well balanced with sharp drum sounds and a more dominant bass end. But, to their credit, Hinds haven’t sacrificed much of their sound or their energy.
I Don’t Run has a lot of similar surf-rocky qualities–high reverb on the guitars, bouncy rhythmic lines–which help to keep the band from feeling too aggressive. One of the appealing aspects of Leave Me Alone was the slightly bubbly demeanor of the songs even as they tackled sadder topics, and that demeanor exists on I Don’t Run as well. Many of the songs are about loneliness, betrayal, or a general dissatisfaction with one’s current state of existence, but through it all, the chords are sweet and full, and the beats are jumpy.
If anything, the cleaned up production enhances the band’s versatility. Hinds’ dual vocalists Carlotta Cosials and Ana Perrote can both be heard more clearly, their melodic lines are more distinct. They play around with singing over one another, pulling the attention this way and that. The album also has more notable peaks and valleys as the group expand their dynamic range outside of the punk standby of All-Loud-All-The-Time. With this change also comes more complex song structure.
I Don’t Run is far less straight-ahead than Hinds’ previous album and has added a lot of layers to the composition. “Tester”, for example, alternates between slow, moaning verses and bombastic, shouted choruses with a bass-heavy, stomping breakdown. And “Soberland” finds the band utilizing light effects and contrasting rhythms in the guitars to create a much more elaborate sound overall. It sounds as if their sound has gone through five years of evolution instead of just two.
Hinds is and has been on their previous album, extremely easy to listen to. The tracks aren’t so complex that they confuse or demand extra attention to unpack, and the vibe is light which makes the album never feel overlong. It’s short and sweet. On
Leave Me Alone the recording style and sonic sensibility made you feel as though you could be listening to it at a house party. Just four normal girls from Madrid playing pleasant, fun tunes in the background, in a corner somewhere. I Don’t Run takes Hinds out of the corner. This band is now center stage, demanding the attention of the listener, but in that same pleasant, fun way. The raw energy is still there, they still clearly lean into their imperfections, but the sound has matured and been polished up just enough to enhance its better parts.