Minks - By the Hedge - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Minks - By the Hedge

by Rory McKeown Rating:8 Release Date:2011-01-10

Melancholy New York duo Minks bulldozed their way onto the radar last summer with 'Funeral Song'; the upbeat, summery indie-pop delight with a macabre title that deservedly forced music publications and bloggers alike to take notice and pencil them in to 2011 ones to watch lists.

Thankfully, Minks' Sean Kilfoyle and Amalie Bruun have included 'Funeral Song' in debut album By the Hedge, and lovingly placed it among bleak titled tracks such as 'Cemetary Rain', 'Life at Dusk' and 'Bruises'.
Judging by its track titles, there's no denying By the Hedge is a gloomy affair. It's akin to a book of condolence in memory of 1980s post-punk-new-wave-romantic eras, signed by revered pioneers The Cure, New Order and The Smiths, but its jaunty-yet-sorrow-fuelled melodies and softly performed vocals emerge through the despair like piercing sunshine.

Kilfoyle and Bruun tenderly share vocal duties in shimming opening track 'Kusmi'; a rough, pencil-written 'Wish You Were Here?' postcard from The Wake to Field Mice, while 'Our Ritual' introduces feather light synths and heart-warming "woos" to create an almost euphoric concoction of ambience and energy.
'Cemetary Rain' provides By the Hedge's most radio-friendly effort, again gladly borrowing from their predecessors with Squire-esque guitar riffs and dry, undistorted, basslines - a sound The Drums would have happily embraced for their debut album last year.

Despite its choice of title, the rustic and Cure-tinged 'Funeral Song' is not a song to mark the passing of someone close, but a fun-loving opportunity to say goodbye to a perfect teen summer. Kilfoyle's vocals are more forced and direct - almost buoyant - as he wails, "falling in love/ singing your song/ touching your skin/ kissing your smile", perhaps recollecting the season's highlights before exclaiming "so long summer time/ I'm not coming back" over a whirring synth hook.

The hazy and lusciously-layered 'Our Ritual' will evoke memories of evenings spent recording live John Peel sessions, while on the scorching 'Ophelia' Kilfoyle sings, "the memories are all we have", a thumping statement from a refreshing duo who seem to have mastered using the best parts of their 80s influences to create a modern, refreshing 21st century sound.

By the Hedge does have its negatives. The inaudible vocals on the 'Out of Tune', which could have been an early Echo and the Bunnymen rough cut, 'Boys Run Wild' and 'Bruises' frustrate, and instrumental 'Indian Ocean' is perfect elevator music; a misplaced addition. But minor criticisms aside, By the Hedge is a pulsating debut album from an act that has more than justified their early promise. It's gorgeous in parts and Kilfoyle and Bruun prove a fascinating team.

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