Single Review: HURTS – ‘Illuminated’

FORE NOTE: Please forgive my untimely absens; laptop issues again. As I made you wait so much I’ll give you two reviews today.

By now, I’ve already made my opinions on HURTS very clear. One of the very few acts to carve their own niche in the industry of today rather than piggy back of the success of others, Theo and Adam’s story, right from the way they first met, is nothing other than extraordinary. And I feel that, despite having reviewed four songs by them already, I’ve not fully introduced them to you. Allow me to introduce them properly.

Theo met Adam whilst both their groups of friends had a bit of a drunken brawl outside a pub one night in Manchester. They got talking and soon after Theo was sending clips of his vocals to Adam via t’internet and Adam would mix a track to go with it and then send it back to Theo. They continually did this internet vocal/production swapping for a few months before setting out to find a record deal. During which time, both of them were on the dole but once they signed to RCA and produced the album in a real studio, they were set for success and praised by many a critic as they did so. They even wrote a love letter to Kylie Minogue, asking if she’d like to feature on a track for their album. She agreed and that was how ‘Devotion’ came about, but right now, for their sixth release (though only the fifth to come from their album), one of the first songs they wrote together is finally seeing the light of day.

‘Illuminated’ has been a firm fan-favourite from the moment they posted the live video of them performing it on their YouTube page. In typical HURTS style, Theo’s ever-haunting vocals caress the listener soothingly over pillows of synths before erupting nigh-on heroically into chorus of such epic grandeur it feels physically enormous, throwing up imagery of numinous, verging on religious, experiences and flashes of blinding light. Something about it feels extraordinarily ethereal and it plays knowingly upon the listeners’ imagination with all the exquisite perfection HURTS are known for.

There’s a second chorus about half way in, that inexplicably elevates the song to even higher territory, soaring above; beautifully rich in texture and constantly assisted by Theo’s vocals, which couldn’t sound more empyrean if he were standing atop Mt. Everest and bellowing the lyrics into a raging blizzard.

On the emotional front, ‘Illuminated’ is one of the more convincing moments from their album. Whilst it feels so fearsomely well-crafted and chilling to the ear, it provides a powerful emotional impact; a bittersweet lament to love and pain that strikes all the right notes.

Here’s the video: It’s actually the live version as the video for the official single hasn’t arrived yet.


1:23… Lovely random hair-comb making a stellar appearance.

HURTS have release another flawless single, but I just feel it may be too late now to do anything with this single now the album has already been certified Gold in the UK. Will radio and/or TV promote it? Who knows? It’s coming up to summer after all. But even if HURTS don’t get media columns’ ever-prestigious seal of approval, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from enjoying the multi-layered masterpiece that is ‘Illuminated’ on your own.

Rating: 5.0 STARS

Download: May 1, 2011 (OUT NOW)

Featured Album: ‘Happiness’

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  1. Johnny

    Fine OddOne! After what must be the 100th review of a Hurts’ song you’ve written, you have fnally managed to convince me to buy the album.

  2. Dara Hickey

    Wow! Excuse me while I celebrate a little bit! :L 

    How do you find it? Any standouts you’d like to mention? I really wish they’d released ‘Devotion’ at some point, and with it being a duet with Kylie Minogue, surely Radio 1 acknowledge it actually existed, unlike HURTS’ most recent single releases.


    1. Johnny

      Wonderful Life is my favourite by far, it paints such a brilliant picture. I also like Better Than Love which sounds like The Killers minus guitars. I’d give it about 3.5-4 stars because I don’t think there’s an awful lot of variety in the music style and the grandoise sound wears off after a bit. However, I haven’t heard any albums I’d rate higher than that for a while.

      I too thought that about Devotion but I think it’s too slow-paced for Radio 1. A radio edit could be more sucessful.

      While I’ve got your attention, I ought to say I love your blog! I find your reviews much more down-to-earth than those done by professional reviewers.

      1. Dara Hickey

        Why thank you! Sometimes I do feel I’m being a bit harsh though, because I haven’t been able to give 5 stars in a while :L I think that may be due to music not being as inspiring as it was a few years ago. But nonetheless, I’m glad you enjoy it!

        And I agree with you on the album, too – ‘Better Than Love’ is definitely my favourite, along with ‘Wonderful Life’ and ‘Stay’. There are others that I listen to when I’m in the right mood, but I think that may be HURTS’ biggest issues for individual listening – you have to be in the right mood for the majority of it! ๐Ÿ™‚

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