Wednesday, January 19, 2011

By the Hedge, Minks (2011)

There are so many bands who want to sound like another band. I hate to think Minks are one of those bands. But, after many listens, there is no other way to see the album. By the Hedge is Joy Division meets garage band meets the xx. All great things. Well, maybe not the garage band part, but Joy Division and the xx are perfectly great bands to wish to emulate. No harm in trying. And, in fact, Minks do a pretty good job of never sounding like they try too hard to be another band. One can't always expect originality. So, I've found a very happy medium with this album.

The albums opening track, 'Kusmi,' is rather tepid. It's a bit of a swaying 80's pop song, but quieter than one might expect. It certainly introduces the listener to "the sound" of Minks. The lo-fi whispers of many of the tracks. The album picks up on the second and third tracks, 'Out of Time' and 'Life at Dusk.' Both tracks remind me a little of the Jesus and Mary Chain. 'Out of Time' is one of the albums best tracks. The choruses are folded into one another in what feels like a mellow, repetitive loop.

The albums best two tracks are 'Funeral Song' and 'Indian Ocean.' 'Funeral Song' is most like Joy Division. In fact, even Minks couldn't deny the Joy Division influence on this track. 'Funeral Song' is the first track I heard from Minks. It was released as a single a few months back and got me really excited for their full length album. Of course, 'Funeral Song' isn't quite the best representation of the album as a whole. 'Indian Ocean' is an incredible instrumental track. The only instrumental track on the album. I'm not usually one to enjoy tracks sans lyrics, but 'Indian Ocean' really pulls me in. The guitars sound like waves. The track would fit perfectly as part of a very emotional scene in a film.

'Bruises' and 'Boys Run Wild' are the albums other two great tracks. The sounds of Joy Division are full in 'Boys Run Wild.' The track begins as though it should follow the final song of Closer. 'Bruises' may not be a great song, but it follows the annoyingly peppy, and Belle and Sebastian-esque, 'Cemetary Rain' (certainly the weakest and most skipped track on the album).

The album closer, 'Arboretum Dogs' is a haunting finale. Certainly makes the listener wish to start the album over for a handful of repeat experiences. It isn't often that I find myself listening to a new album, on repeat, so early into my time with the album. But, Minks grabbed my attention and left me wanting a little bit more. Perhaps, some of that more I want suggests a weakness within the album. The constant feeling of 'just a little bit more, please?'

While not the strongest album I've heard in awhile, By the Hedge is interesting enough to pique my attention and to keep it.


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