Review Summary: Hayes forgets to record his fourth studio album and decides to reimburse his listeners with a free, no-strings-attached record, which is the most you’d be willing to invest if it were purchasable.
It’s a good thing that Darren Hayes
offers this free of charge, because you quite simply wouldn’t want fork up your doe to have it in your car CD player. The lifeless expression above may even entail what some will convey during its course. In contrast however, it’s evident that whilst
Hayes has been supposedly not recording his fourth studio album, he’s at least still been enjoying himself; not a song here would indicate otherwise. Though this relatively small and straightforward album (made in sole collaboration with Robert Conley) was essentially a dirty little secret before it was publicly made available via his MySpace in May, what has exactly happened to that talented songwriter from Savage Garden
’s more colourful half? For whatever reason he’s missing, and We Are Smug
is easily the last place you’d find him if you were searching.
Veiled behind heavily accentuated electro-beats, and the untimely entrance of Conley on the microphone during opener “Look What We’ve Started”
, there’s effectively a collection of prototype material posing well as completions. For example “The Pressure”
’s measured atmospheric delivery in general, while “Fire It Up”
makes us think Conley may be Kevin Rudolf
’s forgotten dance rock partner. “Watching Me Watching You’s”
bridge consists of a brief rap reminiscent of Eminem
’s 2002 hit, “Superman”
amid Hayes own references to Kryptonite of all things. And finally “Hot Tub Blue’s”
late 40s warmth is clearly targeted as a cliché blues track so many pop albums are becoming infected with nowadays. Put it down to shear musical influence, but it’s really just the two having fun while trying to be clever at the same time behind their mics and synths. Luckily for Hayes being possibly further from the limelight than ever, he can afford to at least try and do all this, plus casually blare out some explicit material and refer to radio music as “Shit on the Radio”
(once here they're really just having some fun here). Succeeding this is “Tear it Up”
, which is again lyrically explicit, but vocally awful, sounding closer to a real episode of the chipmunks rather than an appropriate imitation of them by an established countertenor.
It’s unlikely that We Are Smug will be a solid affair for the future artistic needs of each side. Instead, it’s surely a place that they could revisit in times of loneliness or boredom to culminate their misused ideas from other pop recordings. For an effort, there’s no denying it could have worked well, but those precious 40 minutes are certainly better spent walking your obese dog or grooming your moulting cat; minutes are after all more precious when they’re under threat.