“Girls just want to have fun”, and the four female members of Hinds want it more than most. The Spanish female garage band shout, ooh and aah over a feedback-drenched steady rock beat much to their delight, and for that of the listener. They sing about boys, love, good times, and such with enthusiasm and a healthy sense of humor. The Prettiest Curse is infectious without being syrupy, fresh instead of juvenile. This is messy pop music that captures the vibrancy of youth without being childish.
The Prettiest Curse is the Madrid-based band’s third release. The four-piece combo consists of guitarists/vocalists Ana Perote and Carlotta Cosails, bassist Ade Martin, and drummer Amber Gringen. They originally called themselves Deers but were legally compelled to change their names to avoid being confused with the similarly sounding band the Dears. Hinds is another name for female deer. Like the animal, there is something gently tempestuous about Hinds’ approach to the music. The songs may offer excitement but share a calm core reminiscent of the behavior of the hoofed ruminants. Deer may seem tame until one gets too close.
Take the ebullient, “Riding Solo” with its space-age sonics. The wild ride alluded to in the title works as a double-entendre with masturbation latent in the lyrics. “You’re my favorite space and time,” the singers offer in unison. Their voices don’t harmonize as much as exist separately in the same space and time. They are alone together. The singers break out into Spanish before the song is over, something they do on several songs here (mixing English and Spanish) for the first time on record.
There are other distinctively Spanish touches on the record, such as the acoustic flamenco guitar solo that opens “Come Back and Love Me”. These bits add flavor to the musical concoctions, as do non-Spanish related ones. For example, the end of that same song features the sound of a toy piano to suggest the retreat of the narrator into her earlier self before life and love got so complicated. This theme gets played out on several songs, particularly the sad martial groove of “The Play” that questions one’s changing identity. Growing up is hard to do.
The record was produced by Jenn Decliveo (Bat for Lashes, Beth Ditto), who allows the band to be both strong and sultry, depending on the material. Tracks like “Burn” move to a hard, fast beat while others such as “This Movement Forever” ooze like maple syrup even though both are love songs. The entire record shares the same vibe thanks to the deceptively simple approach to singing and playing.
Hinds themselves poke fun at their modus operandi. They pretend to be kids just playing around on songs such as “Just Like Kids (MIAU)”, but their knowingness gives them away. The band sings LOUD and not always in tune on purpose. They combine being feminine and punk rather than being pigeon-holed as either. The group understand that being away from home is a curse, but a pretty one because it means they are successfully touring the world. Hence the irony of the album’s title. The Prettiest Curse is one of victory.