Sunday, May 16, 2010

so hip, it's Hurts

Hurts have been quite methodical in the planning of their debut. Each visual and musical expression has been carefully calculated. Whether that pays dividends is yet to be seen. However, the online chatter around the duo has reached a certain fever pitch.

The gentlemen outline their manifesto in the following EPK. They want music and all its visuals to be special. An aesthetic embraced wholeheartedly by Pet Shop Boys. Everything from their sound to their highly stylized, streamlined look recalls the sophisticated splendor of late 80s pop. Black, Johnny Hates Jazz, Love And Money and Hipsway quickly come to mind. Sonically, "Better Than Love" mines the vein tapped by Depeche Mode and the aforementioned PSB.

Even the video captures a mood that strikes a balance between the underground bunker feel of mid 20th century Cold War, Iron Curtain oppression and the elegance of a black tie and tails performance at the ballet. Throw in a touch of erotica and androgyny and you've got the template of many music vids from the 80s.

After the haunting beauty of their first online leak, "Wonderful Life", at the back end of last year and nearly impossible to find Arthur Baker mixes that followed, "Better Than Love" comes as quite a shock. Very unexpected. When it appeared that they were going to explore a more lush, bittersweet sound, in comes a thundering, electronic track with a booming vocal.

Even at this point, with the interwebs seemingly interwoven into every nook and cranny of everyone's lives, Hurts manage to keep their moves and identities shrouded in a haze of mystery. The veil only lifts for brief moments once you've gotten a glimpse of the story. Even their official website has little in the way of information about the duo. A simple black background with details neatly laid out with a clean, white, serif font. Not even a bio for reference is available.

Always leave them wanting more. It's counter intuitive in these wireless, social media riddled, Google dirty days. We need this. Let's see if their debut longplayer lives up to our expectations.


  1. The video is an homage to the movie The Night Porter (esp from about 2:20)

    PS I see you are having an INXS Kick moment!

  2. Everything about these guys is brilliant. Although Sony dropped the ball with the Better Than Love remix done up by the Tiefschwarz brothers (, this LP is perhaps the most anticipated of the summer. I hope it comes out on a nice 200-gram piece of wax- can't wait!

  3. you may have created the BEST blog post title ever there. So simple yet insanely brilliant. Well done :)

  4. The cover looks like someone really, really liked the Anvil period Visage work by Helmut Newton! I should give them a listen just on principle. And hey presto! "Always leave them wanting more" is the verbatim first chapter of my Book of Rules for this Business Called Show!

    I just looked at the clip at work (no sound on) and while the clip is certainly informed by The Night Porter, it's still far more genteel. The Night Porter is a film which doesn't just flirt with taboo, it f*cks it. Right out in the open.

    Next step: watch the clip at home with sound!

  5. @xolondon - Thanks for the reference. I had no idea.

    And yes, I've been on an INXS kick lately. Pardon the pun. I heard "I Send A Message" the other day and realized they weren't represented in my iTunes library.

  6. @The Music Gourmandize - Heavy weight vinyl on the album would be gorgeous. It would tie in nicely with the stylized vibe of the project.

    And I agree with you. The remixes of "Better Than Love" could have been better all the way around.

  7. @Paul - Well, thank you! It was screaming to be written.

  8. @REVO - I couldn't put my finger on it. You are SO right. It is very Helmut Newton circa "The Anvil".

    I was trying to compare it to the moment in the 80s where sleeve art and videos tried to capture that art deco period in the 30s. Think "Vienna" by Ultravox. You nailed it for me. Danke!

  9. Well, I strapped on the headphones and watched both vids. I can see where you're coming from. I'm thinking Johnny Hates Jazz/Curiosity Killed The Cat/Hipsway era yes, but you rank those bands with Black and I can't go there. While I collect every utterance of Mr. Vearncombe, I was completely resistant to the also rans I just listed.

    The new song gives me a bit more hope that once day, if they are allowed to grow, they might flower into a band I can love more than respect. The new single has whiffs of Peter Schilling (troubling) or Alphaville (not troubling) along with the late 80s male pop vibe, which at least holds the seeds of something more. The songs on the EPK made the mistake of using titles that make me think of Black or The Blue Nile and how can they not come up wanting in those circumstances?

    But I will certainly allow that the first album might work as did that of Ladytron; a pastiche of styles and musical values I value with the massive flowering that came afterward as the group developed into a genuinely great band worthy of my devotion. One hopes that Sony will water the roots in these, the end times.

  10. 2010 is suiting up to be the year of the male pop vocal! You just watch!

  11. Damn Vin- you know who Hurts really remind me of?


    It just dawned on me for some reason lol

  12. Just got my Hurts Better Than Love 7" today! The b-side, "Mother Nature" is just lovely. I cannot wait for the LP this summer!

    ps. The 7" was cut like shit and was a white label?! Figures...thanks a lot Sony.