Brooklyn Duo Does Its Best ‘80s Impression, Sans the Black Lipstick

Minks
By the Hedge
Captured Tracks

As the latest in a recent stream of goth-pop acts that includes London’s hugely suc- cessful the xx, upcoming Brooklyn duo Minks aim to resurrect the moody ‘80s charm of legendary bands like the Cure and Joy Divison. And, like the xx, the selling point of Minks’ debut, By The Hedge, lies almost entirely in the time-tested combi- nation of seductive boy-girl harmonies and shim- mering hooks.

The album opens with “Kusmi,” a sugary, synth- drenched soundtrack to an autumn make-out session under high school bleach- ers. It’s the perfect summation of By The Hedge as a whole: clanging guitars, reverb-heavy vocals, a charming chorus and some cute lyrics about “walking after dark” and “girls with broken hearts.” There are no musical curveballs here — just catchy, lovelorn rock songs.

One frustrating aspect of the album is the amount of raw potential squan- dered on murky pit stops such as drowsy wanderer “Out of Tune” and the pleasant but lengthy guitar interlude “Indian Ocean,” which slow the exhilarating pace of some of the album’s more straightforward guitar-pop.

Still, it’s difficult to deny the alluring chemistry between multi-instru- mentalists Amalie Brunn and Sean Kilfoyle. And, when they stick purely to tight, focused songwriting — grooving basslines pulsating beneath bone-dry drums and rousing vocals — the duo find its niche: paying homage to their hair-gelled, pale- skinned idols.

“Cemetery Rain” and “Juniper” are blissful dream-pop gems, and the up-tempo “Funeral Song” has Kifoyle performing his finest Dylan impression as he laments, “So long, summertime/I’m not coming back.”

By The Hedge is an enjoyable glimpse at cloudy teenage angst — sometimes compromised by the pressure to produce marketable radio anthems — and, if nothing else, a promising and occasionally memorable debut. (6/10)

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