Genre: Synth-Pop / Pop
Release Date: 8th March 2013
Label: Four Music (Sony Music) / RCA
The band HURTS came a bit as a surprise three years ago with the massive hit ‘Wonderful Life’. The duet coming from UK was like a blast from the 80's, reminding a lot, may it be in the video, photo, attitude, of all the HUMAN LEAGUE, SPANDAU BALLET, HEAVEN 17... but, let's be honest, with a darkest side, very melancholic. Their success put the Synth-Pop back into the charts, which was already a good thing in itself. Useless to say there are some great expectations on this follow up, and I was really thrilled to the idea of listening to it.
The opening track ‘Exile’ surprises. Just like if the duet wanted to get rid of the soft and clean image. Distorted voice and guitar on a dark mood mid but heavy tempo merged with electronic. A good debut. ‘Miracle’, the first single, is a typical HURTS song. It sounds bigger than the debut album, as usual with a 2nd effort, just like if the band wanted to say “We're back, but with more money, so bigger production”! ‘Sandman’ is a bit scary at start with this kind of R'n'B rhythm and production, but as the voice comes in, we're back in Hurts world. The children choir is a bit annoying and the all thing gives the feeling it's meant for MTV. At this stage I just hope they ain't gonna follow the path of bands like MAROON 5! What is this crazy thing about pop act that starts their career with a real original sound and universe and think they have then to sound like MC Something! What's next? A featuring with P-Something or what?
‘Blind’ is back to HURTS sound. Although some naive lyrics (“Since the day I left you I can't stop crying blah blah blah style”) and annoying children choir (again), let's say it's a OK track. Fortunately ‘Only You’ raises the level suddenly. Up-tempo, electro bass, dirty sounding (ok, “dirty” in Hurts world guys, don't expect Ben Hillier on the mixing desk either)... back to what we used to like. ‘Cupid’ carries on with a slide guitar riff very DEPECHE alike and “dirty” electronic rhythms. Could have been a great first single... maybe too risky for RCA's and Sony’s A&R? The album follows then with this strange feeling about a band hesitating between two directions: go the mainstream way or go the dirty experimental electronic way. ‘Mercy’ is a good illustration of it. Just like you were switching your TV Channel between MTV1, MTV Alternative and VH1 Classic!
The 80's influence is still very present (which is certainly the main reason of their success, let's not forget it) and collapsing with strange noises, distorted guitars and synths... even vocals are distorted here and there... very strange feeling in fact. Not un pleasant at all... but something still restrain from saying “Yeah, that rocks!” No really stood out tracks raise from the album. Sometimes you find yourself skipping a track to another after a couple of minutes. Maybe this album needs some more time to get into it? But overall, I must admit I'm a bit disappointed... This constant hesitation between mainstream and Indie is very frustrating. Having said that, Hurts still have a lot of potential and we all know the story of the 2nd album trap.
Let's hope they will choose a clear direction for the next one... if there is a next one. And let's not forget this kind of bands at least put electronic and Synth-Pop in the mainstream charts, allowing pop audiences getting familiar (again) to those sounds. If HURTS’ destiny is to be a bridge between those two worlds, so be it, it will already be a big achievement
05. Only You
08. The Crow
09. Somebody To Die For
10. The Road
11. The Rope
Theo Hutchcraft – Vocals
Adam Anderson – Keyboards
Total: 6 / 10