Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hurts - Exile (2013)

The duo’s history is pretty funny: they met outside the bar while their friends started a fight but Teo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson were too drunk to fight, instead they decided to talk about music. Their tastes unexpectedly matched and they decided to form a band called Bureau which existed for a year. After disbanding Hutchcraft and Anderson formed the band Daggers, that was pretty popular and even won the Popjustice £20 Music Prize. After the split on 30th January 2009 Hurts appeared.
Hurts are a British synthpop duo formed in 2009 in Manchester, England. The duo consists of a vocalist Teo Hutchcraft and synthesist Adam Anderson. Their debut album Happiness was a great success: they topped many music charts in Europe, and despite being not so popular on their homeland, the Europe and Russia especially really loves them. 

Their second album Exile was released in 2013 and acclaimed a great success as well. Despite not having a hit like Wonderful life from their debut album, critics acclaimed Exile as a very good follower. The album consists of 12 songs in official version + 2 songs from Deluxe Edition. The duo participated in writing lyrics and composing all of the songs. The album has a more Depeche Mode sound as well as it’s more dark than their debut one, the name Exile justifies the mood of the whole album.

The first track in the album is called Exile. It is a very good track for the Intro. The bas-guitar and drums help warm up the listener before next songs:
“So we’ll say goodbye girl
And watch as the world burns
This is exile
We’re in exile”
The repetition of the word exile gives a kind of hypnotizing feeling and this track is like a beginning of a disaster that we will meet with good music and a pair of handsome British men.
The next track is Miracle – the lead single from the album. It has a very light and flourish vibe. It’s sunny – the perfect song for spring and summer time but the lyrics give a completely different feeling. As it usually happens the love destroyed everything:
“Look at all of the damage you have done in time
You can see what a savage I’ve become, in my eyes”

As well as Miracle the song Blind has a sunny vibe but the song is about break-up – a not very funny occasion. This is the feature of Hurts: they can sing about sad things but the melody will fool you. Despite being my of my most favourite from the album I find the lyrics pretty funny: The man cries, that after they broke up he sees and hears the girl everywhere but if they meet he prefers to “turn to stone” because he understand, that she is “better off alone” – what kind of logic is that? Then he asks to “cut his eyes and leave him blind”, so that he doesn’t see the cruelty of their decision. Maybe I take it too seriously but, in my opinion, this is too much of a sacrifice for a person. But let’s go back to the bright side: the beat and the chorus are very catchy, especially the part: Oeoeo-eoeo – this thing really stucks in your head for weeks. As to the melody – the guitar plays the main role here and in the end of the song produces a really calming sounds, like everything is good, despite being bad.

The next song in the album is Sandman which is a metaphor for a dream. According to Hurts: “us trying to work out if we could make a song that sounded like Hudson Mohawke, but as a pop song”. Hudson Mohawke is an electronic music producer famous for his genre-smashing productions. Sandman as well has an electronic upbeat and a choir in the end of a song, which is really calming. There is one more song in this album that includes choir – Help. An interesting fact is that the choir consists of Hurts’ fans. What makes the song special – is the piano part that is played by Sir Elton John and the piano – is what made me fall In love with this song. And the choir – is the cherry on the cake. This song must be listened to with eyes closed – the harmony of the piano, the guitar, and the choir will take you away from reality: "Cause I just need some help". Somehow Hurts know how to do this.  

Only you is the most critically acclaimed song from the album and is said to be the best. It has an electro-sound, a catchy beat – it is a party-friendly song. The theme about love and relationship that started in Miracle and Blind continues in this song but this time it’s all about good things: contributing to each other’s lives and that: “only you can set me free” and without her he will “comatose each waking hour of life”. Sometimes love does very great things. The song Cupid has the same electro-sound song with repetitive lyrics: I’ll never let you go – which is perfect for parties and the electro-guitar contributes to the party feeling.

The Road starts with a slow, sexy, calm singing - like the vocalist is about to fall asleep, but then comes the chorus – a growl-like with strong beats but then we turn back to calm telling. The construction of the song is very interesting: there is transition between slow and calm sounds and more dark-like audacious sounds. You feel like you are on a cemetery where in the beginning the ghost is talking to you but then the whole cemetery rises up and tells you a story about The Road. The lyrics of the song is dark as well and it ends with electro-guitar solo.

Mercy – is one of the most loved songs of the Hurts fandom: M-E-R-C-Y – every fan knows this letters and during concerts it really sounds like a kind of a sect gathering. The dark vibe and strong melody of Mercy continues The Road history and The Crow takes the lead next. It is the deepest song in the album musically and lyrically. It has no repetition and upbeats. The song tells the story about the girl who is being called The Crow. But she isn’t a good bird – she is an evil crow: “frozen hand takes your breath away”, “she spread her wings and they black out the sun”, “bright eyes, black soul, she’ll never let you go”, “she’ll leave when the damage is done”. Listening to these 3 songs one after another puts you in vacuum, you just dissolve in the atmosphere that the melody, the voice and  the lyrics create.

Somebody to die for – one of the best Hurts’ songs of all time. No wonder it became the third single from the album. The song is pretty simple – it is about dying for someone, it’s about pure love: that the man can take you from the fire, drag from the ocean, the life means nothing if you don’t have somebody to die for. This is what makes the song special. He’s not even afraid to look the devil in the eye and let him know that “he was brave enough to die”.  The beat of the song and the choir (again) create an atmosphere of pure happiness and carelessness.

The Rope – is a classical soft-rock song but with a metaphor that the rope is the life – It is long and strong and there will be always someone to pull you out of bad times. This song is not for listening, but for thinking about the lyrics and its true meaning.
Honestly, I’ve never paid attention to the 2 tracks from the deluxe version which are Heaven and Guilt, because after Somebody to Die For and Help I just can’t return to the album – they absorb without residue. But for the review I listened to them and I must say that Guilt – is something magical - calm melody with deep lyrics. It gives a feeling of the last breath - a perfect finishing song for the album.

In conclusion, Exile – is a great album that shows that the duo can change, can develop, can grow. And I will be forever thankful to them for reviving the synthpop genre and being a worthy representative of the 80th’s music.

 Viktoria Kudrenko

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