Single Review: HURTS – ‘Stay’

By now, it doesn’t take a musical genius, or even someone of high intelligence to see that HURTS are not the most commercial act out there. In fact, they’re probably so un-commercial right now, calling them any kind of ‘act out there‘ would be nothing short of optimistic. Their first single ‘Better Than Love’ failed to get promoted and despite being their best single to date, underperformed at #50. Then, upon releasing ‘Wonderful Life’, who’s protagonist was a pre-suicidal man, they gained more recognition, but still failed to make the Top 20, charting just outside, at #21.

Some say it’s because of their music, which consists of inaccessible lyrics, overtly melancholic tones and monochromic imagery, others believe it’s due to them not being in the tabloids every week. But the truth is, it’s a combination of both. Their personalities are hidden, buried somewhere underneath concrete faces of stone grey, with a vintage/retro tinge to their fashion sense. It’s part of their niche; that’s who they are as an act, but unfortunately, in a time where the greedy public want the know everything there is to know about their idols, do HURTS really stand any chance against those who let the tabloids sell the music for them?

Well, considering their new single ‘Stay’ manages to melt the stone cold heart of even Theo Hutchcraft as his haunting vocals glide over the thundering, goose-bump inducing chorus, there’s light at the end of the tunnel, or so they say, as Theo ditches the baffling Niel Tennant-esque rhetoric of ‘Better Than Love’ (Have you forgotten what she looks like?/Or do you only see what you want to believe?/Does it feel better than love?”) and the inaccessible account of Suzie’s lover in ‘Wonderful Life’, for lyrics that a far more easily related to, and a crescendo production that builds and builds towards a climax of musical euphoria.

Even so, they still haven’t ditched the ice-cold feel of the track, with nothing but a piano playing extremes of pitches in the opening verses, which suddenly transforms into an absolute monster of a chorus – “We say goodbye in the pouring rain/And I break down as you walk away/Stay, stay”, and when backed up by a soprano choir, proceedings reach that all new high that every HURTS song promises, even if Theo is battling the production, desperately trying to inject some emotion into it.

And what’s less appealing is the fact that it does take a while to get into proceedings, and will often lose the listener’s interest before the chorus comes around. Unfortunately, this is another typical HURTS trait; they will wait until the chorus to see if you stick around – sometimes even longer than that – and if you can give them time, they’ll repay your patience with an unprecedented masterpiece of quality unmatched by their synth-pop peers. And once you reach the climax of the song – the simply magical final 40 seconds – it couldn’t harbour more grandeur unless Theo has stood in the bleak wilderness a wailing the lyrics into bone-chilling winds.

Which is exactly what he does in the video.

Theo’s aunt wants her voiles back.

If this gets promoted, I could see it being the breakthrough hit for HURTS. They’ve probably released this over better tracks on the album because it’s the most sentimental, the most accessible and the most emotional. People can relate to this song, so in that way I guess you could call it more commercial, but it’s a comforting thought to know ‘Stay’ hasn’t compromised HURTS’ trademark sound or the fans they had before this release.

Rating: 4.5 STARS

Download: November 15, 2010 (OUT NOW)

Featured Album: ‘Happiness’

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