Melancholic Mancunican duo Hurts have suffered a somewhat ambiguous career thus far after fluctuating fare with both critics and commerciality. The debut featured swelling, balladic momentum interspersed with ice cold noir dance floor fillers whilst its follow-up delved into further darkness with a matured approach to songwriting and the experimentation with the genres of electronica and hip hop added depth to their music without dismissing any ingrained emotion. ‘Surrender’ could be seen as a turning point in their career, they either indulge within the avant-garde and forfeit chart placings or make one final grasp for the rapidly fading central spotlight.
Beginning in cogent propulsion, a soulful female vocal beckons the audience to aptly surrender before Theo’s characterful and demanding voice appears on the opening bridge to ‘Some Kind of Heaven’. This new wave dance rock chanson opens as wide as the landscape whilst attaining a sense of ominous closeness helped by the intensity of Hutchcraft’s delivery and repetitive bridge. Hurts’ strength of synth pop is its legitimacy as ‘Nothing Will Be Bigger Than Us’ assimilates a classic New Order or Depeche Mode off-cut whilst its instrumental interlude has clearly been influenced by the band’s recent collaboration with Calvin Harris. The funereal temperament of ‘The Crow’ and ‘Exile’ have been cast aside for shinier production, anthemic opportunities and an overall grander vision of one’s self.
This is not necessarily a negative, inspired by their own violent and vehement live performance tracks including ‘Slow’ feel restless when confined to recorded space as they yearn to breath in front of the thousands Hurts now frequently entertain. ‘Lights’ indulges in the group’s affinity with the film noir aesthetics, its downplayed danceability is a clear high point of this album and paired aside Dawn Shadforth’s exceptional video it is a substantial piece within the history of Hurts. There are a couple of missteps present here including a faceless ‘Kaleidoscope’ and an overproduced ‘Why’ yet fans are rewarded for dedication and commitment by the penultimate track ‘Wings’. This is unashamed, idiosyncratic Hurts as they allow the flood gates to open at full force for a pulsing, self propelling anthem with chorus so colossal not even an arena will suffice to contain its crescendo.
‘Surrender’ completes a trio of exceptional and contemporary new wave LPs evenly toeing the line between affective ballad and synth pop brilliance in a similar way to esteemed performers including The Pet Shop Boys and Tears for Fears. The production values top their previous personal best and songs including the devastating ‘Rolling Stone’ demonstrate perceptive songwriting voice and perspicaciousness of genre. Theo and Adam may either be incredibly ahead of their time or dreadfully behind it as they continue to satiate themselves in an adoration of the 1980s. Regardless they continue to record and release pop music of the very highest order.
Hurts release ‘Surrender’ in the UK on October 9th through Sony Music