Hint Hint. Mmm. When I heard Zack Reinig, producer of two of my favorite bands, Black Heart Procession and Blonde Redhead, was involved with Young Days, I was as excited as when I heard the Olsen twins would be attending New York University in my hometown. It’s not what you think — I’m a huge Full House fan.
The Seattle-based Hint Hint has made a name for itself with its post-punk, end-of-the-world sound. On its debut full-length Young Days, the band has assembled an array of songs that if assigned a color would resemble a flat dripping black. Intense bass lines are paired with eager drum beats, and evil-tapped piano keys are slipped below haunting vocals. Lead singer Peter Quirk sounds like a mix of Johnny Lydon, Jeremy Enigk, Jello Biafra and the guy from Midnight Oil. It’s a bit weird, I know. And it works — but only for a moment.
Opener “Natural Collegiate” slams into PiL-tooting insanity. The song immediately triggered an image of frontman Quirk strutting around on a slightly raised stage in a packed CBGBs-type venue. It’s powerfully dark, with pounding break downs. The second track, “Senator Blues,” is similar in its structure. Same with the third, and every one thereafter. And this is where Hint Hint goes wrong.
If the breaks between the tracks were removed, the album could exist as one long song. Hint Hint attempts to break its track consistency with the seventh track, “Leviathan.” Wailing like a tortured prisoner of war, Quirk uses the Black Sabbath method of harmony structure by vocally following the tempo of the band. The middle of the track breaks into a slight pause, and then a piano-led ballad ensues. Sounding like an outtake from “Return of the Frog Queen,” the song fails to capture the sentiment that was obviously intended.
Despite the promising opening, Hint Hint’s debut is boring. One song at a time, Young Days could be listenable. But collectively, it will undoubtedly put its listeners to sleep — if they can proceed past the monotony that’s presented on the first three tracks. The consistent whine of the vocals should be reserved for songs’ special high points. Instead, Quirk carries out and on with his English-accent-inspired rants. One nice swing for Hint Hint is disappointed with a big miss that leaves listeners toppled over, waiting for something new. And like my double date with the Olsen Twins, it never happens.