I was an early adopter when it comes to Hinds. I’ve been listening to them since they were a duo called Deers releasing slapdash singles like six years ago. The duo became a quartet and changed their name, and since then I have stuck with the ladies from Spain on their journey through the world of lo-fi garage rock. Their first two albums, and even their compilation album The Best of Hinds so Far have made my various top 10 albums of the year lists. Now, they have released their third album, The Prettiest Curse, which is definitely and evolution of sound while still sticking with the stuff that has made me like the band since before they were really a band.
That didn’t seem like it would be the case when the first song, “Good Bad Times,” started. It’s a much more lush sound. Honestly, it felt like a pop song with some indie rock influences. Had Hinds changed their sound entirely? It turns out that isn’t the case, which is a relief. Not that I didn’t enjoy “Good Bad Times,” it’s a perfectly fine song, but it doesn’t speak to the sound of the rest of the album. It’s definitely an album with more production values and a more diverse sound. Hinds has traded some of that great lo-fi sound for keyboards and what have you. In some ways, that’s not bad. The lyrics are definitely easier to parse on first listen than on earlier albums. I don’t always dig the poppier sound, but this is still very much a Hinds album.
When Hinds is at their best it feels like they are all piling on top of each other. Multiple vocals are both overlapping but also are in combat with each other. The instrumentation feels a little ragged. Hinds works best as a band that thrives on their energy as a group. They are still strong lyricists, despite English being their second language, but the sound is what has always drawn me to Hinds first and foremost. This may be their best album lyrically, which is paired with their least-good album sonically. I say “least good” because I still like the way The Prettiest Curse sounds. It still feels like a weird treat when they throw in a little Spanish.
A little maturation is to be expected, though it will be interesting to see how that maturation manifests itself. I feel like they think production value and maturing as a band go hand in hand. That’s not necessarily true. If they keep moving in this sonic direction, I might end up eventually having something negative to say about Hinds. That isn’t the case yet, though. I still think this is a great band, and this album is just as good as their others. It just gets there in a different way. We’re only halfway through the year, but The Prettiest Curse can expect to have a spot in my top 10 for 2020.