The one thing that British popband Hurts have in common with the rest of the artists is their affinity for the unconventional, depending on how you would look at it, that is. In a time where commercial music has been reduced to the same beats repeating over and over again, lyrics are thrown together haphazardly, and crazy outfits are as much as part of the whole look, this band comes along like a breath of fresh air. They use technology to their advantage, write lyrics that resonate with the emotions, and are never caught performing without suits.
A first listen to their debut album comes off across as a product of the 80s, not present day, something that works much to their favor. It is interesting to note that both members are in their early to mid-twenties. These unique sounds are due to the masterful arrangements of multi-instrumentalist Adam Anderson. His compositions are complemented by the voice of Theo Hutchcraft, who comes across as charismatic even if you have not seen one of Hurts’ video clips.
The album’s name and main message contrast with the band’s name, but this too is yet another forte for the duo. They are able to cover a wide scope of emotions without coming off as pretentious or as trying too hard to prove themselves from their first foray into the industry.
Not all the tracks are memorable, but the ones that do stand out are guaranteed to get stuck in the listener’s head.
1- Silver Lining: 3.5/5
A strong opening for a strong album. Hutchraft’s voice is remarkable given the various ranges of the song. He hits every single note with perfect emotion. I especially love the background vocals on the chorus, it just gives this sort-of holy aura to the song. Anderson is a true professional and his piano arrangement is just what the song needs. As the name suggests, this song is sort of optimistic, with the speaker being a source of joy and introducing a “silver lining” to that person’s life. Considering that this album is called Happiness, we begin to get a sense of what is really going to go on throughout the album.
2- Wonderful Life 5/5
The song that got me addicted to Hurts’ music in the first place. I have already given it an extensive review in my “What’s Stuck in My Mind” section, but singing its praises one more time won’t hurt. The vocals are there, the music is beautiful, and the lyrics are straight-to-the-point, easy to connect to, and you can sing along to them. One distinct element? The saxophone that comes out of nowhere towards the end of the song.
3- Blood, Tears, and Gold 3/5
Not one of my favorites, I don’t even really recall giving it that much in-depth listening. What I do get is that Hutchcraft is firmly addressing an old-lover who has hurt him and now she’s come back into his life and he’s remembering what happened between them. This is a classic pop song in its true essence but it fails to match the impact of Wonderful Life so it may get lost in the shuffle.
4- Sunday 2.5/5
The most upbeat song on the album talks about the hardships of love and asking a lover to come back because the nights are long. The duo exhibit their rhyming skills, and it’s fun. Too bad that the music doesn’t go with the emotions of the lyrics or this would’ve been a remarkable track. I do love how he pleads along to a slowed down rhythm ” Please, come back, don’t you leave me, We’re both so young, I know you need me too”
5- Stay 5/5
Thankfully for Hurts’ fans (myself included), the duo announced Stay as their 3rd single and I think this is one of the best decisions they’ve ever taken. The song is a blend of emotions, as reflected in the varying notes, and the sort-of opera element in the chorus. To fully describe just how beautiful this song is, you have to watch the video which is breathtaking and goes perfectly with the song.
6- Illuminated 4/5
“We are all illuminated.” How strong is that verse? This starts of as a very soothing song, only to explode into this fusion of instruments and lyrics about realizing that the world isn’t what it used to be. I would say that placing it after Stay gives the song some strength because they sort of stem from the same vein.
7- Eveyln 2.5/5
Also another song that I tend to skip over because I really don’t like the opening, even though it’s chilling and the vocals come out just suddenly. I’m relatively undecided on how much I like this song so I gave it an average rating. I also don’t find myself singing this easily. I’ll leave it up to you to judge,
8- Better Than Love 3/5
Hurts’ first single is a song that can easily fit in the 80s or at present day. “And it feels better than love,” perfectly sums up everything that the album talks about, because what could be better than love except probably Happiness? It’s fast-paced yet it makes you think at the same time. Here’s the video:
9- Devotion (ft. Kylie Minogue) 4.5/5
It’s obvious Kylie is one huge Hurts fan. She’s covered Wonderful Life during one of her live sessions and she sounded amazing. She’s also the perfect match to Hutchcraft’s smooth vocals. Kylie just brings us back to that Confide In Me era and wow. Did I mention that she’s almost 40 years old? Yup. She’s still got it. Beautiful, melodic, emotional, instant hit-just a few words to describe how incredible this duet is.
10- Unspoken 4/5
Unspoken has the misfortune of being placed between two incredible songs so if you’re not listening to the album track-by-track, you won’t get to appreciate how beautiful this song is. Piano-driven, it features lyrics along the line of ” So let me go,”I won’t change my mind, I’d rather be lonely than be by your side.” So powerful.
11- The Water 5/5
No words do this song any justice. So, I am leaving you with the audio clip for this song for you to indulge in its beauty. Also, if you have the album, don’t miss the hidden track Verona.