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'Leave Me Alone' Blends Harshness With Beauty


This is FRESH AIR. Hinds is a Spanish quartet that's just released its debut album. The four women formed the band in Madrid and in the space of just a couple of years, have toured extensively, performing all over Europe and making attention-getting appearances at festivals, such as this past year's South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. Rock critic Ken Tucker has a review of Hinds' album "Leave Me Alone."


HINDS: (Singing) Sorry, you're the one that I love. I can tell you that you're my favorite song. And darling, you're the map to my town. You're never walking home alone.

KEN TUCKER, BYLINE: The thin, tinny sound of Hinds on the quartet's debut album "Leave Me Alone" - it's a sound designed to come across as accessible and democratic as possible. These four women revive the notion of do-it-yourself punk musicianship in creating their songs.


HINDS: (Singing) How many secrets do you have that keep you smiling that way? You'd better start to behave. And how many scars you don’t share, and why do I care? Still, I can smell that something failed.

TUCKER: Hinds likes to sound messy, as though their songs were tossed off - thoughts that had occurred to them while they had instruments in their hands and microphones in front of their mouths. But this is actually the strategy of self-conscious artists. That part of their approach consists of the importance of reproducing spontaneity. Take, for example, the song called "Bamboo" about a guy who's hot but not quite measuring up to Hinds' standards.


HINDS: (Singing) I want you to call me by my name when I am lying on your bed. I pray you to stay away while I'm talking with your friends. I need you to be around my legs and stop complaining about the rain. And how could I show you without looking freaking mad that I am not always going to be around. How could I show you without loosing all our time that I am not always going to run behind? And why, oh why, your are on my mind?

TUCKER: I like this slowed-down girl-group harmonies in that song - the way those harmonies collide with their guitar chords and the way the band phrases its sentiments. A line like, I need you to be around my legs and stop complaining about the rain - well, that distills entire decades of women's justifiable resentments about moody men, does it not? In the video for the song called "Chili Town," the four young women dance aimlessly, without much sense of choreography, just feeling the beat of their own music while smoking, drinking and making faces at the camera. The chorus is a dare - all I'm asking is you to make a move - with great lines like, I am flirting with this guy so you can watch my crime, salted into the mix.


HINDS: (Singing) I am touching without hands because you're deaf and blind. Don't try to reach to reach my mind, collecting my fake card. You're out of town, man. I am swimming in the dark 'cause all your friends are sharks. Keep fighting for your truth, amazing feelings juice - you chose the wrong side. All I'm asking is you to make a move. All that I'm asking for is you to make a move.

TUCKER: Some of the best moments of on "Leave Me Alone" occur when the band shifts to a more quiet mode. They can sing in gentle tones that nevertheless do not soften their sentiments, as can be heard in the gender-switching challenges laid down in "I'll Be Your Man."


HINDS: (Singing) Ten minutes of delay and your anger was no more, dear. And I'll clean your blood of all the venom that keeps you fighting with every mirror. I won't let you, I'll be your guide. And I'll close your eyes, and you close your eyes. I'll make it simple. I don't need no gain. I could be your baby, but I'll be your man. I'll be your man. I'll be your man. I'll be your man.

TUCKER: Right now, Hinds is concentrating on getting itself heard - getting audiences familiar with its mixture of harshness and musical beauty. In emphasizing spontaneity over more finished creations, they're like painters, slathering their musical canvas in bold strokes. You get the feeling by the end of their debut that they're just beginning to explore other colors - other methods that might compel them to decide whether they want to work on a larger scale, or remain quick sketch artists of immediacy.

DAVIES: Ken Tucker is editor-at-large for Yahoo TV. He reviewed "Leave Me Alone," the debut album from the band Heinz.


DAVIES: On tomorrow's FRESH AIR, the neuroscience of mind-over-body. We talk with science writer Jo Marchant, author of "Cure." For example, taking a fake medicine - a placebo - can have a real effect, causing a biological response in the brain that eases our symptoms. We'll also hear about the benefits of mindfulness, meditation and virtual reality. Hope you can join us. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ken Tucker reviews rock, country, hip-hop and pop music for Fresh Air. He is a cultural critic who has been the editor-at-large at Entertainment Weekly, and a film critic for New York Magazine. His work has won two National Magazine Awards and two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards. He has written book reviews for The New York Times Book Review and other publications.
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