Hurts HappinessHurts burst onto the scene in early 2010 with their first single Better Than Love, but had much better success with their second single, Wonderful Life. It was this single which drew me in, despite my tendency to hum the Black song of the same title every time I hear it.

Their singer, Theo Hutchcraft, originates from the bowels of deepest, darkest North Yorkshire, where there is clearly little to do but listen to your mum’s old Spandau Ballet records while watching the sheep go by. Many bands of late, of note my own particular favourite, The Killers, have shown influences from the darker side of 80s pop such as The Cure, The Smiths and Depeche Mode; Hurts, however, have dug deep into the back pockets of Tears For Fears and the aforementioned Spandau Ballet, with a drop of Vince Clarke era Depeche Mode thrown in to bring us their own brand of sweeping, sometimes orchestral, synth based pop with just a splash of 90s boy band in the mix to ensnare their younger audience. This, combined with their sleek style and Bros-like good looks, have set the libido of teenage girls across the country racing.

Having really only heard Wonderful Life (it’s a wonderful, wonderful life – no wait, that’s Black again), I was curious to see what Hurts could produce, but reluctant to buy the album based on just one song. I was tipped over the edge, however, by the adoration shown by many people whose musical taste I share (for this read Victims aka Killers fans), and I made the purchase.

On first listen, I have to say the only songs that stood out for me were those first two singles, Better Than Love and Wonderful life, which are still my favourite tracks on the album, the rest of the album left me intrigued, but cold. Intrigued enough, however, to give it several more chances, and the album has grown on me, though it’s by no means a favourite. There’s promise there, but a feeling of disharmony, a divide or battle of wills between the influence of 80s synth pop and the boy band harmonies of the 90s, and it’s probably not an album that is going to stand the test of time. I think it shows potential though, and if they can find the right direction, I think they can become a solid band.

At the moment I am firmly astride the fence, I really want to like them, but my ears are against my will. I will most likely be going to see them live, and hopefully this will push me over the edge, one way or the other.

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