Brooklyn duo Minks released their debut By the Hedge on the Brooklyn label Captured Tracks. Heavily influenced by the post-punk sound, the album is a mixture of breathy vocals, fierce bass lines and a lo-fi fixation. Although comparisons to The Cure may overwhelm the album on first listen, dreamy guitars and boy/girl harmonies evoke the likes of Sonic Youth and shoegazers My Bloody Valentine, though with a more jovial twist. If Robert Smith and Kim Gordon had a child in the middle of spring, it would have been called Minks.
The opening track, “Kusmi,” begins with a guitar buzzing before the vocals jump in, tones blending lushly with melodious guitars and a synth-heavy chorus as the pair sings about “girls with broken hearts.” Most of the lyrics are near-impossible to make out as the duo uses vocals more as another instrument than as a medium to convey words. Many times the vocals sound like faint harmonic fuzz, especially in the thumping “Boys Run Wild.” Lyrics are left out in the instrumental “Indian Ocean,” in which Minks carries out musical minimalism beautifully with melodic guitars layered over a sharp bass line. As for the final track, “Arboretum Dogs,” it’s like I’m listening to a sadder version of Sonic Youth’s “Teen Age Riot,” but it works, and the track ends the lively album on a familiar sound. It’s nostalgic yet modern.
While the song titles are somewhat morbid, notably “Funeral Song” and “Cemetery Rain,” the songs themselves exude a kind of buoyancy reminiscent of teenage optimism and make frequent mention of summertime. The contrast envelops the entire experience of the album, as it focuses on regret and the problems with young love.
By the Hedge keeps true to the gothic Brit new wave with its ethereal aura and little-to-none production. It’s dark while still dreamily melodic and a little chaotic. The shimmering harmonies and abundant guitars create a vibrant blend of sounds that makes me want to fast-forward to summer and frolic in waves with Robert Smith.