Hurts have always been a curious proposition to pin down. Enormous across Europe while slightly struggling to replicate that success here in the UK, the Manchester duo have quietly built a catalogue that is heavy on emotion and bombast, re-tooling the electronic pop template to their own desires.
New album ‘Faith’ - their fourth to date, and first since 2017’s full length ‘Desire’ - affords the pair space to quietly overhaul their sound, introducing fresh elements while remaining faithful to the gothic textures that have brought them such continental success. Accomplished pop that plays with 2k20 formulas while rarely breaking out on to fresh ground, it’s a nonetheless enjoyable experience, balancing curious creativity with surging emotional peaks.
Opening cut ‘Voices’ for example adds a Rosalia-esque latin tinge courtesy of that guitar line, while Theo Hutchcraft’s soaring operatics is reminiscent of The Associates’ lost soul Billy MacKenzie. ‘Suffer’ is a pensive ballad, shrouded in darkness, the kind of bombast few groups can pull off with such natural aplomb.
Yet it’s not all twilight shades of pop. The production on ‘Fractured’ seems to channel Missy Elliott style futurism from her late 90s peak, with Adam Anderson’s abilities stretched to their limit. Equally, the crunching arena-level electronics on ‘Somebody’ push Hurts into another realm entirely.
Ultimately, ‘Faith’ is the band’s fourth album within this aesthetic framework – curiously, it’s also their fourth in a row to use a one word title. Hurts know what they’re doing, and while some changes are marked – an increased utilisation of future-pop tropes, for example – the album is an able reinforcement of familiar sounds.
Ending with an attempt to find hope amid despair on ‘Darkest Hour’, ‘Faith’ is tailor-made to thrill their mass army of fans, balancing fresh ideas with that glamorous melancholy.
Words: Robin Murray
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