Review Summary: The Hurting is filled to the brim with cliches, and is somehow all the better for it.
If you just look at the album cover you can count three cliches: the band name, the album name, and the crying child. The Hurting
is an easy album to dismiss. It didn't reach any kind of success in America, it was overshadowed by the band's 80s anthem "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", and the only song on it that everybody knows is supposedly a "worse version of the Gary Jules cover". That's a lot going against it, and coupled with the immature over-dramatic subject matter, one would think you could write this off as a childish debut. But somehow, you can't.
Jumping into this album you can tell that it's the definition of an eighties album. There's a drum machine, synth effects, and a weirdly danceable vibe. The album begins with a modified African sounding drum fill and liberal use of echo effects, and then the whole piece's theme is set up with that one song. "The Hurting" (the song, not the album) is one of the best songs on the entire album because it couples everything people actually liked
about New Wave music without all the stuff we hated about it. The bridge throws in a pan-flute section that instead of feeling pretentious strikes an incredible balance with the music and somehow feels natural, as though it was obvious that the two should be combined. In an album that throws in a children's choir (the definition of cliche, but actually well-utilized here), a harpsichord, and bongo drums, these curveballs end up being almost as interesting as the music itself.
Of course there are a few songs on here that people may be familiar with, such as the sublimely produced "Mad World". I don't care how much my friends try to convince me, I will never find the Gary Jules version better. The dull (sound-wise, not as in boring), Morrissey-esque voice of Roland Orzabal complements the dark music perfectly, and the atmosphere is reminiscent of bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain
and helps the album achieve the mood is sets out to. There's so much to love in this sound that it's a shame that more new wave bands didn't seek it out.
The album's lyrics can be a little over-the-top, but it can never be said that they don't fit their songs. Every chorus on the album is easy to sing along to, and at their best, the lyrics are concise and meaningful.
"Say what you want
Say what you will
'Cos I find you think what makes it easier
And lies spread on lies
We don't care
Belief is our relief
We don't care "
is a sadly overlooked classic of the New Wave genre, and is worth a download to any open-minded music listener who doesn't absolutely hate "Everybody Wants to Rule the World". To the New Wave or eighties pop fan it's absolutely essential and should be passed up by nobody.
Excellent instrumentation, production, and atmosphere
The album is filled with anthems, and is fun to listening to while still maintaining its somber mood
Orzabal's voice fits the music perfectly
Some may find it too over-dramatic
Ideas As Opiates
Suffer the Children