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Album Review: ‘Exile’ by Hurts

Pop-duo Hurts – made up of vocalist Theo Hutchcraft and keyboardist/guitarist Adam Anderson – have come a long way in four years. In that time, they’ve gone from jobless to pop icons: having one of the fastest-selling albums of 2010 in the UK, two European tours, and at least ten European music awards under their belts. Not bad for a pair of twenty-something-year olds from Manchester.

And that’s without mentioning the guest album appearance from Kylie Minogue (vocals on ‘Devotion’). So there was just a smidgeon of pressure for their follow-up album to produce similar results.

Hurts’ second album ‘Exile’ is in Hutchcraft’s own words about “running away”. And those who have been loyal fans of Hutchcraft and Anderson since their 2010 debut album ‘Happiness’ will know that ‘Exile’ has somewhat run away from the original synth-pop style that they established with ‘Happiness’.

Ironically, ‘Happiness’ had a slightly more melancholic and hopeful nature than ‘Exile’, but was written whilst Hutchcraft and Anderson were on the dole. ‘Exile’ explores some new sounds for Hurts: hip-hop makes a surprise appearance in ‘Sandman’, and ‘Mercy’ and ‘The Road’ take a stab at dubstep – a far cry from the pop-opera sounds of their past. A darker and wilder album is what Hurts wanted from ‘Exile’, and they’ve certainly managed that.

Darkness is actually one of the things that Hurts do best. What with their extensive use of minor chords and lyrics like “I’ve got nothing left to live for/Got no reason yet to die” (‘Somebody to Die For’) – it’s easy to see that darkness is something that Hurts thrive upon. And to top that all off, to look stylish, they admittedly only ever wear black.

For anyone who hasn’t listened to Hurts before, this may paint a rather miserable picture of their music, but the reality is quite different. Despite the darkness of ‘Exile’, the majority of the tracks are uplifting. A perfect example of this is ‘The Road’ which, when it reaches its all-guns-blazing chorus, is worthy of a cinematic theme tune. Even the over-emotional ‘Help’ warms the heart, with some pianistic support from Elton John.

So, has ‘Exile’ equalled its predecessor? Not quite.

Inevitably, rivalling what was described by critics as an “immaculate” debut album was never going to be easy. And yet, ‘Exile’ takes risks that ‘Happiness’ – as a debut – perhaps wasn’t ready to take. This album won’t set Theo and Adam back though; it has achieved chart-topping success in many countries across the globe and will pave the way for another Hurts tour later this year.

Will Hurts return to their synth-pop roots for their inevitable third album? Or will they continue to shock with new sounds? For the majority of Hurts’ fans, it probably doesn’t matter. The passionate lyrics, immensely catchy hooks and Hutchcraft’s magnificent vocals are all they need. And those are things that ‘Exile’ did exceptionally well.

For anyone wanting to see Hurts live, there are now Exile Tour tickets on sale for Manchester 25th October and London 26th October at


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