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Hurts - Faith (Album Review)

Wednesday, 09 September 2020 Written by Matt Mills

Pop music in 2020 is a typically controversial affair. Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion have angered the far right with WAP’s celebratory sexuality, Lady Gaga’s jump into house music has ruffled feathers, and Billie Eilish’s Grammy mop-up heralded an outpouring of love and bile. And all this from a style that is genetically engineered to be, well…popular.

Certainly, dividing opinion isn’t something Hurts are unfamiliar with. When the group released their fourth album, ‘Desire’, in 2017, they were met by a barrage of mixed reviews. The diverse LP elicited comparisons to names as wide-ranging as Coldplay, Massive Attack, Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson; some audiences subsequently lauded its unpredictable eclecticism, while others argued it made for a wobbling, hit-and-miss experience.

Sadly, ‘Faith’ will likely continue the fanbase-splitting antics of both Hurts and the wider pop sphere. On one hand, the restlessness with regards to sources of inspiration on the band’s fifth full length is admirable, and it’s a characteristic that ‘Faith’ wears on its sleeve. 

It commences to the sound of Voices’ vivacious folk-pop, where synths bubble quietly beneath lively clicking and acoustic guitars, before giving way to a climactic, Maroon 5-ish chorus. The following Suffer, however, is a moody, ‘80s-inspired number, quiet and minimalist.

This kind of stylistic disparity quickly becomes ‘Faith’’s defining characteristic. While Slave to Your Love is summertime piano-pop with distant choirs and dramatic strings, Somebody’s powerful stomp conjures up images of Arctic Monkeys and modern-day Fall Out Boy. Redemption is a forlorn ballad that gradually escalates in intensity and Numb (appropriately) has dark, distorted instrumentation that sounds like the lead-in to a heavy Linkin Park riff.

In a world where mainstream music can be so scared to venture outside the box for fear of alienation, ‘Faith’ deserves praise for its adventurousness. But, in the end, the entire affair leaves a hollow feeling. It’s an album with many great ideas, yet it follows through on few of them. It’s not as much a consistent work of art as it is a sketchbook.

Hurts Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu April 15 2021 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Fri April 16 2021 - MANCHESTER O2 Apollo

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