Hurts – Redemption

“I didn’t think a pop song could pull that off, and yet it just has done.”

Tim: Third track off their upcoming album Faith; we didn’t feature their second, and I’m not quite sure why, because it’s fairly good (though the intro’s a bit unpleasant, maybe that put me off). This one, in contrast, is…well. Headphones, please, and sit back, as it entirely deserves 100% of your attention. There’s an official video, but we’ll just have the artwork for now, I’ll explain later.

Tom: “I’ve never felt this far from God.” That’s a bold and devastating first line, isn’t it? And for an album called “Faith”… it’s rare for the first verse of a track to grab me like that.

Tim: Isn’t it brilliant? I first listened to this when I was walking home from work the other night, and for the first minute I was ‘yep, this is a good Hurts track, they are doing what they do very well’; the light backing vocal then confirmed that. Second verse and chorus, still as before, fine, still good – might have expected something bigger, but again I have, well, faith in them, and even just at that base level it still sounds stunning.

Tom: It’s a perfect example of how to construct a song that builds like this: just subtly introducing instruments throughout, occasional pizzicato strings here, a bit more percussion there…

Tim: And then the middle eight, and OH BOY. Gentle electric guitar, sure. Fine. But then, just, blimey. Strings come down, and suddenly Hans Zimmer walks into the room, and it sounds incredible.

Tom: It works! Most bands don’t even attempt something like this; those that do, tend not to hit the bar. There are bits I wasn’t sure about at first (the odd dubstep-esque breakdown, the final note) but those qualms vanished on a second listen. Frankly, this is a statement of a song, and I’m not going to argue with it.

Tim: The vocals come back up later, and at the end of it I’m astounded by what I’ve heard. I didn’t think a pop song could pull that off, and yet it just has done. It is, quite simply, utterly marvellous.

Tom: When Hurts are good — and they’re not always good, but when they are — they’re one of the greatest pop acts we have.

Tim: Now, all of that is the case if you’re just listening to the song, but there’s also the video. You can watch it here if you don’t want this discussion to spoil it, but it starts out exactly as it should and as you might expect from this: the two of them standing under spotlights, Theo singing and Adam playing piano, and it stays like that until what we shall call the Zimmer Moment, and suddenly it turns from song to soundtrack. Now, although I’m sure it’s partly there for shock value, I don’t think it’s too gratuitous, that’s not my issue – after all, the idea of redemption by fire isn’t a new one, particularly if you’re bringing religion into it.

Tom: And a note to every video director: this is how you light and grade a dark video for modern broadcast workflow. Faces are clear, there’s a minimum of colour banding. It’s not perfect, compression still ruins some close-ups of the eye with fire, but it’s about the best you could hope for. I agree, I don’t think that’s too gratuitous, there’s no close-up of injury there, it’s clear that it’s a metaphor — and a stunt.

Tim: But it does mean that you go immediately from watching a song being played to watching a film with a great score, and that’s not what I think a music video should be. It’s different from, say, Alan Walker, or Basshunter back in the day, because with them the music is entirely unrelated to the video – you’ve a story and a song happening at the same time, but that’s about it. Here, the music is directly related to what’s happening on screen, and what’s happening on screen is the main focus of the whole piece. And as a music video, I don’t think that should be the case.

Hurts – Voices

“I suspect that’s going to be a grower.”

Tom: They’re back!

Tim: Indeed! A load of good stuff came out on Friday; highlights include a decent new Katy Perry track, a new album off KEiiNO (mostly tracks we’ve already heard, but a couple of good new ones), an Alan Walker redo of a Hans Zimmer piece, and this:

Tom: Huh. I suspect that’s going to be a grower. 

Tim: I’m hoping so, yeah – it’s their first new music since 2017’s album Desire, and the problem with Hurts tracks is that they’ve got a lot to live up to. Their first album was packed with so many brilliant tracks like Better Than Love, Wonderful Life, Sunday and Stay, each album since has been topped with great tracks, and they even managed to bring out a Christmas song that you liked.

Tom: It is a genuinely good, emotional, sad Christmas song and I stand by it.

Tim: As well you should. But as for this one… well, there’s nothing I’d really want to change about it, as it’s very definitely a Hurts track, but I can’t help hoping there’s better stuff on whatever album they presumably have coming out soon, as this doesn’t quite do it for me.

Tom: I do like it, for once — it’s not the sort of immediate sit-up-and-pay-attention track that I normally go for, but the whole thing sits pleasantly in the background. Why’s it not work for you?

Tim: Annoyingly I’m not quite sure, so can’t really put it in to words – maybe it’s that it’s leaning too far into heavy beats, with both drums and synthy bass notes, than strong melodies – but whatever it is, it’s definitely missing something.

Tom: Either this is something that I’m going to appreciate more over time — or that repetitive guitar melody that’s underneath most of the track is going to grate and grate more. We’ll see which it is.

Hurts – Ready To Go

“One of the best bands of the decade”

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.

Hurts – Beautiful Ones

“Be who you are, and be that with confidence.“

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.

Hurts – Wings

“Oh my.”

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.

Tom: Especially that final chorus.

Hurts – Rolling Stone

“More or less perfect”

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.)


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 THANKS GUYS.

Hurts – Some Kind Of Heaven

“They’ve learned their lesson from last time”

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.

Hurts – Somebody To Die For

“When Hurts are good, they’re very, very good.”

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.

Hurts – Blind

“Dark enough without the video.”

Tim: This is the second single off their very difficult second album; there’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.

Hurts – Miracle

“That sounds very much like Coldplay.”

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.