w/Pretty Girls Make Graves, JR Ewing,
Mon Nov 25, Graceland, $8.
Pete Quirk, the frontman for Seattle's Hint Hint, delivers lyrics like each line is a tortuous thought, wrestling them with the passion of someone fighting a lover's quarrel. At times he doesn't carry his tunes as much as he unravels them like heavy loads come undone, moving around in a clamor while punching out jerky keyboard melodies. But this isn't a tantrum--it's tempered intensity, the shifting of gears between dark beauty and taut frustration. Keyboardist Leona Marrs complements Quirk with her own coolly discordant electro rhythms, and guitarist Dean Hudson and drummer Jason Lajuenesse crank up the noise while holding down the beat. This is sharp-angled punk with a brain, dance music with an axe to grind.
Hint Hint have only been around for a year, but the electro-punk act is already getting a buzz, having opened for Wire and toured with Pretty Girls Make Graves. Their first recording comes out in January as the premiere release on Pretty Girls' Derek Fudesco's new startup label, Cold Crush Records. "We thought it'd be cool to be part of something from the ground up," says Lajuenesse of Cold Crush.
The six-song EP, Sex Is Everything, was recorded at a house in Bellingham, using methods as unconventional as Hint Hint's music. "Our friend Orion has all these odd instruments, and he makes these microphones out of skulls--I actually sang into a human skull, which was interesting," says Quirk.
Then again, Quirk wasn't cut out for conventional music. "I never played in a band that had set songs. I've always played in noisier bands that were more improvisationally based, so it's fun for me to depend more on what I'm playing," he says. "Our stuff is mostly orchestrated, but there are parts where I make little changes. I have lyrics that change from time to time because I don't want to sing the same songs over and over."
In the future, the only thing to expect from Hint Hint is more experimentation. "We're still a pretty young band," Lajuenesse adds. "And it feels like we've barely scratched the surface as far as what we can do."