Single Review – Hurts – Hold On To Me

Another day, another spacey pop effort from Hurts. Released just a number of days before their fourth LP Desire hits the shelves, Hold on to Me blends big sounds with a reflective theme. It’s still very much Hurts, despite the headier side to their style being explored on Ready to Go. Theo Hutchcraft’s winning vocals glide over the backing track, while the song is made smoother still with the bubbles of bass and the beautiful, beautiful saxophone, though instrumentalism very much takes a back seat on this one. Compared to some of their more recent material, Hold on to Me seems a little more defenceless, a little more bare, and for that reason I think it has the potential to be one of Desire’s strongest assets.
Ellie Chivers

Hurts – Surrender Review

The Manchester synth-pop duo return with their first new material since their second album Exile in 2013 which was an album that was barely an improvement from their first, but a welcome change of tone with a darker and more atmospheric feel. A more significant shift is always required from a third attempt however and they really need to build up to something more significant that they promised with their debut back in 2010.

With ‘Some Kind of Heaven’ they’ve retained and delivered a more clearer and catchy sound whilst varying between this and the darker verses too. This works pretty well in that sense and pushes on the pop sensibility that was their making, even if at times it’s a little familiar. It remains an elegant and melodic piece of modern pop music that’s as stylish as their clothes, but only offers up subtle alterations on their existing sound. ‘Rolling Stone’ shows a bold and direct version of Hurts that the pop duo have managed to pull off flashes of this in the past, but with this track they have advanced these theatrical pop statements encasing a dark and detailed lyrical narrative. To do this they’ve sacrificed none of their sleek delivery, but have added smoother progressions and transitions via trembling string sections and choir-like backing vocals. These verse styles set up the hit of the chorus with leader single Theo Hutchcraft switching from an easy, intimate vocal to a more powerful and far reaching style of the chorus with heavy hitting beats and samples with a shredding guitar imitation cutting it’s way through it all. It makes their previous single look a little mundane in comparison. ‘Wish’ is a typical piano ballad with a set up that doesn’t suit Theo’s vocals too well and aside from that, it is a track that leaves little impression lyrically and atmospherically.

‘Lights’ sees them turn to Disco which was a turn few of us were expecting from the duo. It certainly has shades of Random Access Memories by Daft Punk, but in a more purer form of Disco with the low slung bass lines, jingling riffs and whispy electronica with handclaps and all. Theo Hutchcraft offers up a smooth and lavender-like vocal to match up with the time reversed instrumentation. It’s a pretty fun song in isolation and certainly signals a sense of real variety amongst the album, but you still get the sense that this was perhaps a little random in the grand scheme of things. ‘Slow’ shifts back to the more theatrical, electronically tinged pop that was offered up with ‘Rolling Stone’. It opens with bursts of grinding synths and snapping drum samples which allows for a subtle environment for Theo Hutchcraft’s vocals to stray in and out of audible focus and to go on to deliver a more powerful tone into the more echoed and drawn out chorus and typical pop high pitched vocals. It’s not a track of great purpose and struggles to reach a great conclusion, without being remaining intricate and detailed. It is however a well produced track, but one of the lesser singles of the album. Songs such as ‘Why’ are more akin to the sort of track we’d use for Eurovision and that speaks for itself. ‘Nothing Will Be Bigger Than Us’ is a mildly improved rendition of many a Calvin Harris track and the stale and worn through sound sort of has no setting in amongst the rest of the album. Kaleidoscope offers us a more disco variant on the previously mentioned track, but sounds lost compared to ‘Lights’ for example. Unfortunately the areas of promise in the singles is completely non-existent in the album tracks that are filled with cheap, tasteless noughties pop music. The lyrics do little to make up for it and each track leaves no trace and it’s only saved by it’s singles. It seems that they are a little lost at the moment in terms of their sound and hopefully they’ll find themselves with their next album as they have the potential for so much more.

Hurts – Surrender = 5/10

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – HURTS – Slow

A fourth single from the Manchester/Teesside electro pop duo HURTS’ upcoming third album Surrender (expected on October 9th) has been released and ‘Slow’ shifts back to the more theatrical, electronically tinged pop that was offered up with their previous single ‘Rolling Stone’. Their current single opens with bursts of grinding synths and snapping drum samples which allows for a subtle environment for Theo Hutchcraft’s vocals to stray in and out of audible focus and to go on to deliver a more powerful tone into the more echoed and drawn out chorus and typical pop high pitched vocals. It’s not a track of great purpose and struggles to reach a great conclusion, without being remaining intricate and detailed. It is however a well produced track, but one of the lesser singles of the album.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Hurts – Lights

With their third studio album Surrender so far offering up Electro-Pop or Theatrical singles, Hurts have now threw Disco into the mix with their new single ‘Lights’ which was a turn few of us were expecting from the Teesside/Manchester duo who release their third LP on October 9th. It certainly has shades of Random Access Memories by Daft Punk, but in a more purer form of Disco with the low slung bass lines, jingling riffs and whispy electronica with handclaps and all. Theo Hutchcraft offers up a smooth and lavender-like vocal to match up with the time reversed instrumentation. It’s a pretty fun song in isolation and certainly signals what will be the duo’s most varied and open album yet, but you still get the sense that this was perhaps a little random in the grand scheme of things. We always welcome surprises though…

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Hurts – Rolling Stone

Hurts continue to push through the promotion of their third studio album Surrender for October 9th and the newest single from the album is ‘Rolling Stone’. It’s already received acclaim for it’s ‘bold’ and ‘epic’ sound and the pop duo have managed to pull of flashes of this in the past, but with this track they have advanced these theatrical pop statements encasing a dark and detailed lyrical narrative. To do this they’ve sacrificed none of their sleek delivery, but have added smoother progressions and transitions via trembling string sections and choir-like backing vocals. These verse styles set up the hit of the chorus with leader single Theo Hutchcraft switching from an easy, intimate vocal to a more powerful and far reaching style of the chorus with heavy hitting beats and samples with a shredding guitar imitation cutting it’s way through it all. It makes their previous single look a little mundane in comparison, but offers up a bit of promise for their upcoming material as we see if they can continue to deliver this strain of theatrical power pop.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

This Week’s Music Video with Future Islands, Foals, Hurts, Mac DeMarco & Beirut

Single Review – Hurts – Some Kind of Heaven

The Manchester synth-pop duo return with their first new material since their second album Exile in 2013, their new track ‘Some Kind of Heaven’ will undoubtedly feature on their upcoming third. Exile was an album that had only a linear improvement from their first, but a welcome change of tone with a darker and more atmospheric feel. A more significant shift is always required from a third attempt and with ‘Some Kind of Heaven’ they’ve retained delivered a more clearer and catchy sound whilst varying between this and the darker verses too. This works pretty well in that sense and pushes on the pop sensibility that was their making, even if at times it’s a little familiar. It remains an elegant and melodic piece of modern pop music that’s as stylish as their clothes.

Owen Riddle  @oriddleo1995

Sunday Suggestion – Hurts – Wonderful Life

Hurts consists of Theo Hutchcraft from Richmond, North Yorkshire and Adam Anderson from Manchester. Their two albums Happiness (2010) and Exile (2013) have seen them explore the length and breadth of their Tears For Fears and Depeche Mode influences from their sharp appearance and their slick produced and refined pop music as one of the many acts making pop music a discipline as opposed to those who use it as a tag. One song that is the epitome of this is their 2010 single ‘Wonderful Life’. A track that was one of many at the time to show signs of pop music’s sophisticated potential. Forlorn, whirring organs open the track behind a metronomic click. These are coupled with a slight brush of the cymbal and then a pulsating beat. These are tied up by Theo’s clean, sharp and calm vocal. The minimalism and echoed space of the verse allows for a small explosion of sound for the chorus with subtly grinding synths and more rapid, tumbling percussion. All this is still within the boundaries set in the verses and so keeps the song as cool and as understated as their appearance. The song chimes and echoes into it’s final chorus, guided by a gently warping guitar solo. A calm and collected song that tells the story of a suicidal man and love at first sight. Much better than the wailing, over produced ballad it might have been.

Single of the week – Hurts – Somebody To Die For

The synth duo release their third single from their album Exile on July 21st with which I readily admit I rated too harshly a few months back. It’s a grower. I’d say that but it perhaps only just does enough to out-do Happiness from 2010. Somebody To Die For is very much the granduer ballad that Hurts do best and from their two albums worth of tunes this is probably the best song of that type. What I always like about Hurts is that they don’t cram the song with keyboards and samples and they very much have time for other elements. The subtle synth sounds intertwine with the piano and the orchresteral sections do well to create that ongoing wave of sound, creating a good balance without any section killing off the other. The percussion adds a little urgency while Theo’s strong but oddly at times fragile vocal always evokes a sort of lost character which works well in a ballad such as this. It’s produced well with great style and effortlessness too. It’s a great single from perhaps an album too focused on that rather than the other way round.

http://youtu.be/Pt1kc_FniKM

Image from www.contactmusic.com

Hurts – Exile Review

Hurts proved to quite a polarising duo when they released Happiness in 2010. Some people got it, some didn’t and others probably liked them because they had brief appearences in the charts. I have to admit that I liked that album as it had some decent, ‘edgy’ electro-pop on it with Better Than Love or Wonderful Life but the core of the album was a slight let down. Other than that i justed liked their style and they weren’t really akin to the rest of my music tastes.

When Exile was said to be a lot ‘darker’ i saw this as a positive for them that would get rid of the nothing ballads that they had on their last album. Upon releasing The Road as a taster for Exile late last year it was very odd. The dubstep ‘womps’ at the end was something i was not expecting as many talked of a “guitar driver album” and that element was very minimal in that song. It confuses at first but after a few listens it does make sense but thats about as far as it goes. Their first single ‘Miracle’ wasn’t an improvement on ‘The Road’ and wasn’t a great first single. It was possibly more ‘mainstream’ and pop orientated than anything on the last album. Remember (and god knows why I do) when Rihanna decided to have a guitar driven single with Californa… something? It’s not too disimilar to that. Some songs on the album do live up to the predictions with the title track ‘Exile’ which has a nice little riff that coincides with Theo’s vocals and a continued, disstorted rythm guitar going on in the background. The tinge of synth made it a nice modern pop tune and by pop i mean in it’s most tasteful sense. That and songs like ‘Cupid’ are reminiscent of the Violator album from Depeche Mode in 1990 which i think was what they were aiming for as they have previously sighted them as influences but they are a little watered down from that level. Violator is more rock-pop than ‘Exile’. ‘Sandman’ was another decent effort but why they spoilt it with the auto-tuned woman half way through i don’t know. That pretty much sums up Exile. It has the best intentions and plans but that all became a little skewed when they entered the studio and they seem to have got a little carried away with singling along to every bit of music or putting too much of that effort into other tunes while leaving the rest as album fillers. This is the prime example of the difficult second album!

Hurts – Exile = 4.5/10