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Hurts - Desire (Album Review)

Thursday, 05 October 2017 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Bryan Adams

‘Desire’ is Hurts’ fourth album in seven years and sees the Mancunian synth-pop duo moving confidently into new areas such as gospel, light jazz and funk. It’s a satisfying creative direction for a band who were unveiled with major label fanfare in 2011, but who have since retreated to become a bit of a left-field concern.

The reason for the retreat might be that Hurts’ sound is so broadly pop that they actually miss the hipster demographic that they resemble. While the new album will do nothing to redress this potential quandary, ‘Desire’ has some really strong moments: Ready to Go and Walk Away are gold-plated electro pop bangers that stick out alongside the immensely catchy Boyfriend.

The latter song contains Hurts’ signature blend of ‘90s camp with contemporary EDM, shot through with Prince-style vocal sequencing for good measure.

It’s worth mentioning that Theo Hutchcraft’s vocal performance throughout is superb. His voice is somewhere between Andy Bell of Erasure and Gary Barlow, and has a purity of tone and melodic robustness that occasionally recalls the infallible George Michael.

Elsewhere, the aforementioned disconnect is displayed on tracks like Wait Up. This song is, on the surface, a delicate waltzing number with classic sounding lyrics: “If you want me, then I’m sorry, I’m coming home so wait up for me / cause I feel shameful, so unholy / unlock the door and wait up for me.”

The challenge is that the track falls between two stools; neither fulfilling the edgy brief set out by the Granit-Xhaka-in-Shoreditch look, nor the Motown classicism of the lyrical message. Arranged acoustically, this song could be sung by someone like Sam Smith or Adele...or at least pitched to them.

And that, probably, is the crux of the matter. ‘Desire’ is balls-to-the-wall pop, but the pop writing is not quite top notch. It aims to be completely mainstream, but in doing so the music lacks a clear cultural mandate or a spiritual specificity.

Hurts Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu December 07 2017 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Sat December 09 2017 - MANCHESTER O2 Apollo

Click here to compare & buy Hurts Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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