Anna Marketti ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Music Section Editor
We often forget about the international music community when considering our favorite artists, save for perhaps the United Kingdom; but Madrid’s Hinds are making a foreign taste a familiar one in the world of rock.
Breaking into the indie underworld with their single “Bamboo” back when they were still Deers, Hinds breathe life into the most simplistic style of rock ’n’ roll. After a copyright dispute, they became Hinds, and the Spanish quartet has finally released their debut LP, Leave Me Alone.
Singles like “Bamboo” and “Trippy Gum” introduced us to their lo-fi world, which proved to us that even in Spain they enjoy pop-injected rock. “Bamboo” finds itself realized with more Western-centric ideals of production on Leave Me Alone. Husky vocals from the all-female group provide a masculine touch in a world where ladies are only just beginning to be accepted as being able to rock too.
The lead track, “Garden,” is a journey. Slow paced vocals underscore relentless guitar, creating an unsteadiness that leaves the listener begging for more. Traces of past influence linger on the album, suggesting perhaps a delayed exposure to Western music: bluesy riffs and bubbling, pop-infused vocals that evoke a simpler time in rock history.
Where earlier generations fell in love with the easygoing, yet simultaneously frenetic, energy of groups like The Beatles, current generations find themselves entranced by forays into the unknown. And that has unfortunately been a privilege reserved for mostly Western bands, owing titles to Pearl Jam and Nirvana for this brand of gritty, explorative rock. But Leave Me Alone is Hinds’ attempt to get back to the roots they undeniably draw from. Which is refreshing, particularly when considering how traditionalist much of European music still remains. There are still Flamenco artists who are household names, and despite the few well known Swedish metal groups, the rest of the world remains untouched—or at least un-influenced—by a Westernized brand of thrashing, screaming, no-holds-barred music.
Hinds are here to change that. “Castigadas En El Granero” is one of two tracks on the album with a title in their native Spanish, implying a desire to leave at least a trace of their culture. This is reflected in the syncopated rhythm and twinkling Spanish guitar. It fades gently into “Solar,” which embraces its nomenclature with sweeping guitar riffs that take flight. These songs offer a taste of what the rest of the world has to offer in the music industry. Though we sometimes turn to artists like Paul Simon for our fix of world music, listeners in a Western culture will never have access to the entire catalog; unless, of course, they are introduced to it, via family or otherwise. By introducing a Western musicality to their culture, Hinds have created a unique blend of sounds that bridge the gap between cultures that have seemed too exotic or distant in the past to be accessible.
“I’ll Be Your Man” plays an interesting role on Leave Me Behind. Not only is its title subversive—an all-female group saying, “I’ll be your man?” How taboo!—but paying closer attention to the lyrics identifies that the song is really about role reversal, and reclaiming ownership of all the gooey ballads written about women in the past. It’s also about being there for someone fighting demons, but it disguises that within the wandering warbling and repetitive lines.
There are several instances on the album where the girls could have fallen victim to prejudice: letting their voices lilt on pop lines rather than the scruffy, harsh rock vocals they opt for instead. We have created a culture where the woman is the pop star, and the man is the rock god, with little room for in-between. Of course, there come exceptions: Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell; but Hinds use their unique position as international artists to challenge an idea bigger than themselves. And “I’ll Be Your Man” encapsulates this—reminiscent of early Smiths singles, it’s garbled and uncertain, with the twist of their delicate Spanish accents to provide an added layer of charm.
Leave Me Alone, as a whole, knows its boundaries and uses them to its advantage. Not being fazed as outsiders, Hinds’ uniformity throughout the album establishes their place in the rock industry. By adding touches of their native Spanish culture, they unite a foreign concept to a familiar realm.