MINKS | By the Hedge
Most Likely To: take you back to the days when Indie Rock was ascendant.
As the early days of the 1990s recede further into the swirling mists of time, they acquire an ever more burnished sepia tone of nostalgia. Ah, those were the days, back when the U.K. was awash in the sweet sounds of shoegazing and Madchester, and the U.S. was witnessing the birth of the Indie Nation, with R.E.M. and Sonic Youth at its head. Bob Mould was getting played on commercial radio, Natalie Merchant was considered a sex symbol, and ‘80s stalwarts like The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees were charting the biggest commercial hits of their careers.
Sean Kilfoyle and Amalie Bruun of Brooklyn’s MINKS obviously recall those days with great fondness, though they were likely mere rug rats at the time. By the Hedge, their debut album, mixes shoegazing ambience with ‘90s vintage indie-rock production values and stirs in occasional dollops of The Cure’s goth-pop. It ends up sounding a lot like Guided by Voices attempting to record Disintegration with help from The Drop Nineteens.
If it’s possible for lo-fi production to be lush, MINKS have definitely pulled it off. They pile layers of guitars atop keyboards atop more guitars for a style that’s huge but still sounds like it was recorded in someone’s living room on a Walkman. The result is simultaneously intimate and distant, as if the album is being recreated as a composite from one’s own memories of what they were listening to in 1992.
The hyperactive bassline and keyboards of the single “Funeral Song” are pure Wish-era Cure, while “Cemetery Rain” and “Juniper” recall American shoegazers like Madder Rose and Velocity Girl. Replace Kilfoyle’s vocals on “Life at Dusk” with Elizabeth Fraser and you’d have a pretty ace Cocteau Twins track.
All of which makes By the Hedge sound like nothing more than a collection of pastiches and homages to the sounds of an earlier golden age, but it’s much more than that. Minks definitely draw inspiration from the past, but they undoubtedly their own band, mining the past in order to chart their own future. Even so, if I’d heard this playing in a Coconuts store in 1993, I’d have definitely dropped $14.99 on it and left the store a happy customer.
Listen to “Funeral Song” from MINKS: