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By the Hedge *

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Performer Notes
  • Minks' singles hinted they were onto something special with their moody brand of pop, but they truly come into their own on By the Hedge. Early descriptions of Minks called them "goth-pop"; while shadows flit around the edges of nearly every track here, they're never quite deep or dark enough to conjure the G-word. Even on songs like the lovely "Cemetery Rain" -- which certainly has a title conducive to all things bleak and morose -- the band evokes a summer sprinkle instead of a dark and stormy night. Comparisons to the Cure (who are more goth by association than anything else) are a little more accurate, whether it's the bouncy basslines that run through most of these songs or the way that "Ophelia"'s opening chords resurrect "Lovesong." Yet Shaun Kilfoyle's languid drawl feels more in keeping with the Church's Marty Wilson-Piper or Lloyd Cole than with Robert Smith's yelp, and Minks' sweetly blurry bursts of dream pop, such as the gorgeous "Bruises," call to mind Isn't Anything-era My Bloody Valentine, back when Kevin Shields and company hovered instead of soared. By the Hedge is steeped in the golden days of college rock, but every moment that sounds like it came from an album buried in a promo bin for a couple of decades is balanced by something from Minks' own time. "Funeral Song"'s fizzy synths and elegy for summer are downright chillwavey, but it's a great single, regardless of whether it appeared in 1990 or 2010. Regardless of where Minks draw their inspiration, By the Hedge shows they use it expertly. Their songs have good bones and simple yet evocative lyrics like "Juniper"'s refrain "Pull me under/Over and over," and they know when to swath them in distortion and reverb or leave them relatively bare. And, on the lanky, jolie-laide love song "Out of Tune," they even make the wrong notes mean as much as the right ones. Minks leave listeners wanting more on By the Hedge, a debut that sounds timeless and surprising. ~ Heather Phares
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