I adore the way Leave Me Alone, the debut album from Hinds, shuffles to life with a distinct slacker ease, as if it’s trying to establish a code of ripe sonic lassitude. Album opener “Garden” recalls some of the hollowed out retro rock of the Best Coast brigade from a couple years back, but with an added distancing from the rigidity of popcraft. With its trudging backbeat, rickety anti-harmonies, and guitar lines that sound like they’re being played by arms collapsing out of exhaustion, “Garden” is a call to arms from a band choosing not to raise their voice too loud. It is insistent by its methodical withdrawal, urgent because it is in no particular hurry. Even the lyrics are notable for somehow finding emotion in disjointedness: “How many secrets you have that keep you smiling that way?/ You better start to behave/ And how many scars you don’t share, and why do I care?/ Still, I can smell that something failed.” (Those four lines take about thirty seconds.) The music is defined by its fascinating contradictions, at yet it feels genially effortless.
The quartet from Madrid delivers that sort of material across the album, catching the same whiff of dissipated teen spirit that Waxahatchee took to balmy indie acclaim last year. The appropriately title “Easy” calls to mind Liz Phair’s bygone wounded demos, and “San Diego” is the sort of song the Lemonheads might have released in the days before Evan Dando’s scruffy dreamboat status made it evidently more difficult for him to find his way back to downbeat understatement. Perhaps understandably, the slowest songs wind up almost overly spare. “And I Will Send Your Flowers Back” practically evaporates as it goes along. Still, there are more minor miracles than missteps across the album. The unexpected charm of the album is exemplified by “Warts,” its firm lope adding an underscore of empathetic warmness to the lyrics about a woman who casually inflicts damage (“It just started like a friend thing/ It just started with a joke/ She’s pretending to be witty/ But you are laughing with a frown”). The track also deserves extra credit for the lyric “She always burns her warts,” perhaps the finest Dinosaur Jr. line that J. Mascis never got around to writing.
I’m not sure I’d call Leave Me Alone a great album, only because it repels such excited commentary. It should be met where it’s at, with a gentle shrug and a half-formed smile. Sometimes even nodding along to the music seems overly aggressive. Listening to the record demands an embrace of the splendid slump.
(Picture found elsewhere, then modified.)