I must admit to having a bit of a crush on Hurts’ frontman Theo Hutchcraft. He is stylish, debonair, with a dry wit. As a vocalist he manages to pour so much emotion into his performance. And as part of a duo, has helped create two stellar pop albums. Hurts appeared on the scene in 2010 with their eighties tinged synth-pop track ‘Wonderful Life,’ and have since been responsible for more huge crying-at-the-discotech anthems than you can shake a stick at. Take for instance ‘Better Than Love’ from their debut ‘Happiness’ and ‘Miracle’ from follow up ‘Exile’. But with the release of album number three, Hurts seem to be on the turn into new territory. Those huge emotion filled tracks that dominated the first two albums have been scaled back in favour of a more upbeat sound. Lead single ‘Some Kind Of Heaven’ is a prime example of that sound as it kicks off this new collection of songs after the gospel intro ‘Surrender’.
The electro element that made them the band we know and love is still there. ‘Nothing Can Be Bigger Than Us’ has that classic Hurts sound; like a cooler, slicker version of the Pet Shop Boys. But it’s tracks like ‘Why’ and big disco number ‘Lights’ that mark their new direction. They still have that eighties tinge to them, but maybe with a bigger pop sound. It does feel at points like it’s at the detriment of the big emotional numbers we know them for, but that’s not to say it doesn’t work. ‘Surrender’ is without doubt the aimed for the dance floor more than anything they’ve had out in the past, and will no doubt sound great live on their forthcoming tour dates. But what holds the album together is the way that Theo tells a story through his vocals. Despite new beginnings, it will always be clear who you are listening to when one of their tracks comes on the radio. ‘Surrender’ is full of the drama that we have come to expect from the boys. On recent single ‘Rolling Stone,’ Theo sings ‘she said her daddy was an alcoholic, and her mother was an animal’. They are one of pop music’s more serious bands, and these songs provide more chances for the guys to look moody and sombre in their music videos, no doubt wearing their signature monkey suits.
It’s at the last part of the album where we hear those big ballads. ‘Wings’ is a huge emo track, but with a difference anything they have done in the past. It has more of an epic, stadium filling sound, but still holds that big emotion-filled chorus. With the festive season coming up it is surely a great choice for a Christmas single. But it’s the next track ‘Wish’ that displays that tenderness so frequently seen on their first two albums. It’s difficult not to compare this new album with their previous body of work, but when a band have calved such a niche for their selves, it is difficult not to. But looking at the album as a stand alone piece, it does definitely work. I think its an album that will draw in new fans, as the songs are catchy, cool, and well produced.