When I first heard of HURTS, I did think they were a little naff; I’m not going to lie. ‘Wonderful Life’ was a deeply depressing song with not enough catchy moments or refined production to float my boat and their image was as impenetrable as a block of pure lead. Fortunately though, ‘Better Than Love’ came along, prancing about with some excited synthesisers and a Depechemode-esque production and made me think of them as a bit hit and miss. But then they released ‘Wonderful Life’, the re-mastered version with additional production by Jonas Quant, and it was official – HURTS were amazing. Amazing in the sense that they will continue to be amazing as long as they don’t stick to this disco lento genre too religiously on successive albums, because there’s only so much even their biggest fans can take.
When listening to their album, the ironically-titled ‘Happiness’, for the first time, there were many standouts, and ‘Sunday’ was one of those standouts, if not for being ultra-mega-super-duper-amazing but because it was a pleasant break from the bittersweet lyricism and pejorative tones heard on the tracks that sandwiched it. But then again – there’s the catch. ‘Sunday’ works well on an album because it dilutes the more sombre, melancholy tracks it’s embedded by, but how does it stack up as a single in it’s own right?
Very well, in fact. From this point on, all readers must be aware that ‘Sunday’ is amazing, and that we need not concern ourselves with the rest of ‘Happiness’ herein, much rather, just how amazing ‘Sunday’ actually is, and in what ways it is amazing.
As with most amazing songs, there are highlights. Here’s a few to start us off:
- The choir of gothic robot pigeons that sing the intro, and they’re seemingly random, reverberated appearance in the subsequent verses.
- “Please come hoooooome”.
- That synthesised string riff.
- The musical section after the first chorus. Yup, it’s those pigeons again.
- The brief moment in the third chorus where Theo.v2 sings a harmony.
- The quiet, sedated middle eight, complete with lovely falsetto “Lonelyyyy”s.
- The chorus after that.
- The musical section after that.
- The metallic-sounding, flatulent synthesiser which very nicely accompanies that last musical section.
- “Lonely Sunday”.
Plenty of highlights for such an exquisitely produced song. Everything has been written and produced with such care; there’s very rarely something that merits criticism on this track. ‘Sunday’ allows Theo to wail about a lost love, knowing that he’s backed up by a monolithic chorus and raging, effervescent synths, yet it still allows a window for him to convey the true angst and emotion behind it all. It also makes a nice difference from the spooky vocals and sinister samples that make up their other singles like ‘Wonderful Life’ and ‘Stay’, or the head-scratching lyricism woven into ‘Better Than Love’.
Dare I say it, it’s probably more commercial than the epic ‘Stay’. Even without a children’s choir or a haunting, alto saxophone-assisted middle eight or a direct influence for the song, HURTS have expertly crafted a song that should hopefully drop the idea of “HURTS are good but…”, and should appeal to a wider demographic than just their underground fans.
Here’s the video: And as with most HURTS videos, it’s as incomprehensible as ever.
Apparently, Heaven is made up of orange sliding doors, an 80’s themed vinyl décor, mirrors, pointless ornamentation and CGI. It is nice to see Theo in something other than a stone grey suit though.
Ignoring the utterly perplexing video, ‘Sunday’ sees a break from all HURTS’ typical pretensions about the dawn of disco lento in the mainstream. The 80’s revival has been given the nudge and boost of 2011’s fresh energy and the end results is one of HURTS’ finest musical offerings to date; dropping the Depechemode/Tears For Fears-wannabe front and giving the public a look into something a little more ‘them’.
Rating: 5.0 STARS
Download: February 28, 2011 (OUT NOW)
Featured Album: ‘Happiness’