Hurts ‘Happiness’ – Review

9 Sep

I grew up in the 90’s so manufactured pop music dominated my early musical experiences. I listened to groups (sometimes because I had no choice, sometimes because I wanted to) that made Take That look like The Beatles – Five, East 17, Westlife and 3T for starters. It’s these groups I’m reminded of listening to the debut album by Hurts. Yes, the band may well have written and produced these songs, they may well be dressed to seriously impress and they may well take themselves super seriously but that doesn’t stop the majority of this album sounding like ‘Coast to Coast’ (if you get that reference then shame on us both). If this does not appeal to you then stop reading now!

Ok, so Hurts have some questionable influences and visually these are two guys that look like they came straight from Smash Hits pages at the turn of the 80’s/90’s, but actually does that really matter if the songs stand up? However manufactured their influences may be Hurts clearly aren’t manufactured and they are clearly very talented, this album contains some absolute belters. ‘Sunday’ would be the best power ballad of the year if it weren’t for ‘Stay’ which is not even as good as ‘Blood Tears and Gold’. These three songs alone are better than almost anything the X Factor contestants will warble out this christmas. The production is immaculate and pretty flawless, cleaner than Paul Weller’s shoes and as bright as the summer sun – it makes for a very easy listening experience.

When the tempo rises things become a little bit more uncomfortable. Despite being initially likeable, I now find early singles ‘Wonderful Life’ and ‘Better Than Love’ more than a bit annoying. Still, they are nowhere near as irritating as ‘Devotion’ a duet with Kylie Minouge which is very sickly and doesn’t have much of a melody. Worse still is the album opener ‘Silver Lining’ which sounds like a mid 90’s Janet Jackson track (and not a good one). The song is about as clichéd as that title would suggest, but it’s also an epic statement of intent and it lets the listener know exactly what kind of band they are dealing with.

‘Happiness’ is going to split opinion, possibly more so than any other album this year. I can see a lot of people loving it and a lot of people hating it and to be honest I’ve gone through stages of both since I first heard the group last year. Right now though I’m impressed with the album as it’s distinctive, brave and has at least three killer songs. I’m going to give it a 7, because whilst I may not love it (and at times I do hate it) it’s hard to fault the group for creating exactly the type of album they wanted to, they should be proud of that. It isn’t the masterpiece they clearly think it is but it’s still a pretty striking debut and if you’re really into this kind of stuff then you are going to love it.

7/10

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