Tim: In which we are reminded that Hurts are one of the best bands of the decade, and also that extended music videos are rubbish, as you’ll miss precisely nothing if you skip straight to 0:35.
Tim: See, when they started way back when, they had their own sound, a sort of melancholy electro-rockish vibe, and since then they’ve maintained pretty much the exact same level of standing ever so slightly out of phase with whatever’s in vogue at the time (though I’m ignoring the abomination that was their second album).
Tom: I do miss that melancholy electro-rock, if I’m honest, but bands who don’t change end up… well, they either end up dying out, or they end up being KISS.
Tim: Here, you’ve your distorted vocal samples, your steady and repetitive chorus loop and the vague post-tropical vibe. And yet even with all those, it’s still distinctly them. And it’s good. Yes, the repetitive chorus loop is perhaps a bit too repetitive, and maybe I’d prefer a slightly more structured ending…
Tom: Both of which I was going to mention.
Tim: …but otherwise, it’s a positive sign for their next album.
Tim: New one off Hurts for you; apparently it’s not off an album, but is just a one-off project. There’s a good chance you’ll need to play it twice, as if you’re anything like me you’ll be to entranced by the video to pay attention to the music.
Tim: And what a brilliant video that is. Yes, it starts with bloody violence and Theo being beaten up, but as it progresses backwards we work towards a happier time, a time instead of joy, where we can see that yes, in fact, we are the beautiful ones. All of us, we can celebrate who we are. As the lyrics say, one day this will fade. But until then? Be who you are, and be that with confidence.
Tom: Which is an admirable message for a song, but I’m not convinced as much by the video: reverse narrative’s been done many times before, and it’s been 15 years since Chris Martin actually lip-synced backwards. Still, yes, points for effort.
Tim: Well, whatever you think of the video if it comes with a side helping of a fantastic backing track then that’s all the better really.
Tom: So as you suggested, I listened again without the video — and I think it’s got a brilliant first verse, which is let down slightly by the rest of the song. There’s nothing actually wrong with it, I just feel it’s not a “Wonderful Life”. Hurts tracks have a high bar to clear — this nearly manages it for me, but not quite.
Tim: New one up from the very excellent Surrender album; music kicks off fifty seconds in if you don’t want any faff.
Tom: Oh my.
Tim: Well, indeed. Query: do people do campaigns for artists to do James Bond songs? I know we’ve only just had the last one, but assuming Hurts are still on in a few years’ time can we get them doing it please? Because this music is just so, so powerful, and when you think of the possibilities that are just so much more than the wanky tripe that Sam Smith brought out, it saddens me that their only cinematic exposure was in a German film from 2013.
Tom: You know, I think it’s the percussion that makes this stands out. Yes, those piano chords in the middle eight are just beautiful; yes, the vocals are excellent as ever. But there’s something done really well in the production here: something that makes that really simple bass-and-clap pattern into the bedrock of everything that’s in here.
Tim: Lyrically, that chorus just conjures up some beautiful images, even if it isn’t particularly subtle and doesn’t really match up with the video in any way at all, and it just one that after hearing a couple of times I just want to sing out very, very loudly. Musically, well, like I’ve said, it’s about the power. It’s exactly as strong as what we’ve come to expect from Hurts – perhaps even more so – and I’m just so, so happy they went back to the sound of their first album for this one. It’s just glorious, all over.
Tim: Second single to be unveiled from album number three, and, well, I don’t want to sell it too strongly and all that, but it’s more or less perfect.
Tim: Because we basically have everything that was good about the first album in the verses, and then everything that wasn’t too rackety from their second album in the chorus, and that post-chorus guitar section in particular is just wonderful.
Tom: It’s rare for my jaw to actually, literally drop, but it happened at the start of that chorus. I disagree with you on that post-chorus guitar, though; it seems a little out of place. Also, I just wanted to sing OneRepublic’s “Apologize” over the top of it, because those drum sounds are basically the same. (And those strings, come to think of it.)
Tim: You see? RUNNING OUT OF MUSIC.
Once you throw in the lyrics, which start with “In fair verona where we lay our scene, Juliet is on her knees” and descend from there, when the chorus kicks in I basically want to thrash around and scream.
Tom: I’m not as much of a fan of those as you, but I can’t quite put a finger on why. It’s good, it’s clearly very good, and I don’t want to take away from that, but I can see why it wasn’t the lead single.
Tim: All in all, what we have Hurts here at their absolute finest, which is basically music at its absolute finest, and dammit I hate that Some Kind of Heaven basically got no promo at all, because COME ON THEY MUST BE HEARD. Let’s PLAY THIS FROM THE ROOFTOPS and also I found out recently that you can request songs to be played on Beats 1, so can we all phone them up immediately please and send iMessages to email@example.com THANKS GUYS.
Tim: Disappointingly, Hurts’s second album never quite matched up to the performance of their first, largely because for a significant part of it, it was a complete racket. Hopefully, though, they’ll turn things around for their third album, Surrender, of which this is the lead single.
Tim: And that’s very much in the style we always liked – subdued and brooding pop with a touch of electro, with a big chorus.
Tom: And of course, a moody, slightly off-kilter video.
Tim: Well, naturally. This time we’re low on the crashing drums and electric guitars – basically they’ve learned their lesson from last time and are making music that their fans (and hopefully they) like all over again, and of that I can be very grateful indeed.
Tom: I agree: this is brilliant from start to finish.
Tim: It’s certainly got a lot to recommend itself, there’s not doubting that – it does feel very familiar, though, but I’m not sure why.
Tom: It does; that first line of the middle eight reminds me of something specific, but I can’t remember what. But then, you’ve got a standard break-beat and “yeah, yeah”s — there’s only so many variations on that. Everything around it, particularly that staccato string section, is great.
Tim: We’re agreed, then – ALL GOOD, bring on the album.
Tim: Hurts haven’t yet been having much success with the singles off this album; with this track, though, they’re certainly going the right way about trying.
Tim: It may be well over a minute before anything happens, aside from the typical Hurts vocal that I find particularly enjoyable and take for granted, but when it all kicks off at 1:25 there’s no way you can deny it was worth it.
Tom: Ooh, now it’s rare for me to say that I like a long intro, but I really do here. The build was very, very much worth the wait.
Tim: The production under that chorus is really quite incredible.
Tom: No! No, it’s not! It’s awful. Really, really bad. But only on the YouTube version.
Tim: What? Oh, yes, you’re right. Sorry, I was listening in iTunes, God, that’s awful.
Tom: Seriously, if you’re reading this, listen to the Spotify version instead. All those odd volume dips and cutouts are missing, and — yes, you’re absolutely right, the production is incredible. What a shame that odd over-compression’s ruined it.
Tim: The middle eight with the strings is brilliant, and when the electric guitar kicks in with a minute to go it really is just fantastic. I don’t have many issues saying it’s one of their best yet, because instrumentally alone it’s – you know, I think I’ve run out of adjectives to describe it. I just can’t understand why they chose to lead the album with Miracle, which in comparison to this, and others on there, is just dire. This, though, this is just stunning. Ah, there we go.
Tom: I think you’ve summed up my thoughts rather well there. When Hurts are good, they’re very, very good.
Tim: Also, there was a video online for about a day but then it got taken down; not sure why, but apparently it had a load of religious imagery and stuff in it, which sounds about right, really.
Tim: This is the second single off their very difficult second album; their’s a video for it, but it’s so dark it actually kind of spoiled the song for me, so I’m not even going to link to it. Instead, let’s have four and a half minutes of artwork.
Tim: According to my ratings, this is the joint-second best song on the album, though admittedly that’s not really saying much. It is, however, quite a bit closer to proper first-album Hurts than Miracle was, which is good.
Tom: And the song’s dark enough without the video: “cut out my eyes, and leave me blind”.
Tim: Oh God yes — the lyrics are…a bit off, shall we say. Firstly, I have a bit of a thing about eyes and violence, in that it really really freaks me out, so I could do with some nicer words, but secondly there’s the whole idea of it – I wish I hadn’t dumped you, but since I did I hope you’re just as miserable as me.
Tom: I have to remind myself that Hurts aren’t anywhere near happy-clappy even at their most upbeat – but there was so much more in those tracks on the first album.
Tim: There was, yes, and I suppose this is darker than previously; having said all that, though, there’s still the music. The tune. And it’s lovely. Just, really lovely. I really can’t fault it. And that, I suppose, it what Theo and Adam do when they’re at their best – horribly downbeat songs with great music behind them. IT’S GOOD TO HAVE YOU BACK, GUYS.
Tim: First single off the upcoming second album. Have a listen, why don’t you?
Tom: Two things: first, that’s really very good, and second, that sounds very much like Coldplay.
Tim: As mentioned on Saturday, Radio 1’s boss has declared that guitars are coming back. There’s good reason for this – we’re all aware that having a guitar immediately makes you a very authentic musician. But, sarcasm aside (yes, I know), this here may provide something to (a) back him up, and (b) make us formerly horrified pop people merely somewhat alarmed.
Tom: See, I’ve no problem with guitars in pop at all – but then, I didn’t have a problem with the brief return of the saxophone solo either.
Tim: Because this is pretty good, really. It’s recognisably Hurts, but quite a bit heavier than anything on their first first album. Bits of it are Coldplay-esque, sure, but others, particularly the pre-chorus lines and all the closing section, are very Hurts indeed.
Tom: It is: I’m not sure how I feel about that change, but I can’t deny it’s a good track.
Tim: I like that a lot, and am now looking forward more than ever for their album Exile, due in a couple of months.
Tim: We’ve covered Hurts a few times here, and that’s because they’re bloody brilliant – the only reason we didn’t get round to looking at the amazing Stay back in October was because we were too busy being annoyed by Cheryl Cole. Their new track, Sunday, was released yesterday (see what they did there?), and guess what? Yes – it’s a bit good.
Tom: When all I heard was the first verse, it didn’t work for me at all. That bassline didn’t seem to fit at all, and it even set me on edge just a little. But the first chorus made me stop and reconsider, and from there it just keeps getting better; after the second chorus it’s all brilliant.
Tim: The video’s all sorts of weird, mind, but as for the song itself, there’s not much to fault, really. Not so keen on the quiet bit in the middle, but the sheer enthusiasm of the music in the chorus and at the end more than makes up for that – despite the theme of the song being ‘you’ve gone. I’m so lonely’, it’s the sort of music that appears at the end of romantic comedies, as the bloke runs towards the girls in the airport as they finally realise they both love each other.
Tom: It’s got that Hurts trademark style of being a very upbeat-sounding song with downbeat lyrics. Few songs have that dissonance – even fewer can pull it off. Well done, Hurts.
Tim: Now then, Tom. Imagine: you’re a songwriter, you’re not so keen on Christmas right now, for one reason or another, and you want to tell the world.
Tom: This had better be good, Tim. I don’t like new Christmas records as a general rule.
Tim: Do you (a) make a track about how life isn’t great and that hopefully soon the trouble will pass, or (b) make a track about how life isn’t great and that hopefully soon the trouble will pass that’s so incredibly festive that there is no way it cannot fail to bring back Christmas memories? Well, guess what Hurts did.
Tom: Oh my word, that’s lovely.
Tim: Isn’t it? I love it – partly it’s because I really like Christmas music, and if I had the power I would pass a law decreeing that chiming bells must be used in all music releases.
Tom: Don’t ever do that. It’d mean that the proper use of them, like this, wouldn’t be special any more. Normally in Christmas music bells are chucked in at the end, just to add the ‘right feeling’ in there, but they just fit so well here.
Tim: Fair point. Guess I may as well put my political career on hold, then. Anyway, I also love this because it fits with the Hurts formula that I think is superb: entirely contrasting moods of music and lyrics, massive chorus, and vaguely optimistic outlook – ‘I know there’ll be tidings of joy this time next year but happiness has never felt so far away’.
Tom: ‘And all I want for Christmas is New Year’s Day.’ As I write this, I’m tired, and so I’m likely to be a bit more emotional than my normal cynical dry-husk self… but that just hit me right in the heart. See? I just used italics, for crying out loud.
Tim: However, minor annoyance: ‘It’s only seven days till Christmas, six more till New Years Day’. LEARN TO COUNT. They’re even the same day of the week; how hard can it be?
Tom: I’m even willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this; there’s six days between the end of Christmas and the start of New Years’ Day, and I think that’s just fine.
Tim: I guess you’re right. It is a bloody marvellous song, though, so I will happily overlook it. Just this once, though.
Tom: This is going to be my Christmas song for this year. I’m not sure what I’ll be getting up to, but whatever it is, this song is always going to bring back memories of it. Well done, Hurts. Well done.
Tim: Absolutely. And you know what the best thing of all is? They’ve gone and been all lovely and have decided that, since it’s Christmas, for the next seven days anybody with an iTunes account can get it absolutely free.