Hurts – Exile
Moving from happiness to a state of exile is not a positive undertaking. This is the bold move that synthpop masters Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson have made in their transition from 2010’s commercially successful Happiness to darker, melodramatic Exile (2013). After their formation in 2009 Hurts became NME darlings, friends with Kylie Minogue and huge in Europe.
In the title track the listener is reminded with obvious and constant lyrical prompts that “this is exile”. From the second verse onwards the album is peppered with references to “girl” and “darling”, as if each song is an ode to a heartbreaking muse. Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the album is the lyrical closeness and musical similarity to stadium rockers Muse. Nowhere is this more obvious than in The Road which creeps up with sinister undertones before bursting into a cacophony of post-apocalyptic sounds. Muse’s Absolution anyone?
There is no denying that songs like Miracle are catchy and layered with symbolism, in which Hurts style themselves as tortured artists, deliberately trying to be shiver-inducing and epic. Sandman’s lullaby is chillingly macabre as the vocals are layered with a children’s choir begging “don’t bring me back to life” – a stark contrast to the message conveyed in 2010’s Wonderful life. Cupid and Mercy introduce elements of sadism (“I’ll make you bleed”), then masochism (“bleed me dry”). The Crow is nothing but elaborate metaphors, a sombre birdsong you can fly right past.
Blood, Tears & Gold and other songs from Hurts’ first album were infused with elements of hope despite heartbreak. In Exile the listener is only left with blood and tears: “you crucified my heart of gold” (Miracle). It feels like all the real emotion and storytelling were used up in the original creative process and now over-exaggerated pop idioms are being used to create arena-worthy anthems and generate sales – something Hurts will surely succeed in.
Exile was released on 8th March 2013, for further information about Hurts visit here.
Watch the video for Miracle here: