Review Summary: Could you please explain the hurting?
Revivals of synth pop seem to come around extremely regularly, most recently in the form of cool, arty stripped down New Yorkers. But very rarely has it ever came back around from the location it all started - in impoverished Northern cities like Salford or Sheffield. These places bred a certain type of individual; disillusioned, talented, at odds with authority, and extremely non conformist. Bands like Joy Division, Orchestral Manouvres in the Dark, The Human League, and their southern counterparts Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears.
They may have differed in aesthetics, lyrics and even what they wanted to do with their music: but the uniting factor for these bands was their own sense of upheaval, a sense of avant garde boundary pushing, and of course, the inclusion of wonder instrument the moog Synthesizer.
And so now it comes back round again, yawn. But this time, more interestingly, is a synth pop band, from synth pop band territory, the spiritual home of the North - Manchester. Hurts are a promising duo who posses all the credentials to be a truly memorable act, they're staggeringly handsome but look outrageously nonchalant about it all. They're both extremely talented, be it at the instrument side of things, or the soaring and evocative vocals.
Despite this wealth of favourable evidence for Hurts, their debut record feels immensely bogged down by the inclusion of uninventive, boring and pretty unremarkable filler, all of which tends to be ballads, like the decidedly Simon Cowell-ish Stay or the quite painfully long Blood, Tears and Gold. There are some great tracks on Happiness, but there is so much crap on here that seems to bog down the outstanding tracks. Wonderful Life and Sunday are both great examples of this, pulsating, rhythmic, and almost otherworldly in their robotic sounds, the former being the fantastic lead single from the record, whereas the latter is pipped to be a follow up single.
It's a shame really in a way that Hurts have decided to rush out their first record, when everything is in their favour. The British market is hardly saturated with home grown dance pop talent, who are truly talented and likeably distant. Their inclusion would have without doubt been a breath of fresh air - if, that is, they took their time about it, and wrote an album full of what people want to hear, Silver Lining being such a track, a painfully Depeche Mode sounding track that soon builds in intensity and distills all that is good and wholly about synthesizer based music in just under five minutes.
It just so happens that Happiness is an album chocked with filler, with a sprinkling of killer here and there. On a debut album that doesn't tend to point towards good things for the band's future, which again, is a shame as the world seems ready to love another Mancunian again, especially after Morrissey's recent ridiculous fall from grace.