Goth is back. There’s no denying its sweeping influence — black lace and tulle has found its way from street style to fashion runways and all the hip kids’ recent embrace of shoegaze revivalism can attest to that fact. Jumping on the goth train is Brooklyn-based band Minks, a relatively under-the-radar project featuring vaguely discontent murmurings, hazy synth and stylishly asymmetrical haircuts.
By the Hedge
Minks is like the brooding cute boy who dresses really well, but whom one suspects to be a self-absorbed superficial douche. The band’s first LP, By the Hedge, contains all the trappings and trademarks of “in” bands — a fuzzy surf-influenced backdrop, insistently jaunty hi-hat and indecipherably witchy croons. But what separates Minks from some of its buzz band counterparts is the trendy angst overload — though fun, it can sometimes be overbearing and oppressive.
Consequently, By the Hedge seems at times formulaically contrived. Dressed up in slick guitar riffs and disaffection, the album undoubtedly gives off a too-cool-for-school mien, but listeners might wonder what lies underneath all of the distortion. Minks embraces its dispassionate aesthetic by remaining cloaked in anonymity. The band’s website is purposefully ambiguous, and information about Minks is almost impossible to obtain, almost as though revealing such details might be considered déclassé.
The album is a slick, sexy study in undone minimalism, often referencing early Cure or Joy Division. Track titles like “Bruises,” “Cemetery Rain” and “Funeral Song” contribute to the pervasive sense of dreariness that seeps throughout By the Hedge. Thus unsurprisingly, the photo for the album’s single “Funeral Song” displays a close-up of a forlorn androgynous young boy sporting heavy eyeliner, a new wave haircut and severely pouty lips — a clear nod to By the Hedge’s influences.
But after a point, listeners might grow weary of all the gloom and doom. In “Ophelia” — a track named for the tragic heroine in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” who drowns herself in a river in the name of unrequited love — the vocalist sings: “Wherever you will go / Darkness always follows.” It is all fine and true in context, of course, but sometimes a little juxtaposition might be nice. Occasionally good things do happen in the world, after all.
But the glass-half-empty mantra remains unwaveringly persistent. “Funeral Song,” a pop-orientated album standout, heralds the end of summer with its strangely catchy refrain: “So long, summertime / Not coming back here.” However, the album’s tone walks a fine line between goth and suicidal.
The self-indulgent, morbid vibe of By the Hedge detracts from the cohesive sound, but somehow, it’s that very quality that makes much of the album weirdly irresistible.