We’ve asked this question before: who are Hurts aiming for these days? It’s so hard to work out what the market is for their new album Desire – not that we’re interested in commercial speak, but there is a sense that they’re falling into the crevice between emotional pop and streamable muck.
Hurts deliver what ultimately feels like a slight album, but they act bloody intimidating with what little they present. There seems to be such a stress on getting those hits, either TV sync (Ready To Go) or playlists (People Like Us), that Hurts seem to have forgotten their own identity. So we get a reggae-inflected beat on that playlist-bait song, while even their ballads like Something I Need To Know feels like rent-a-voice standards that could be sung by anyone.
That voice is a big part of the issue. Theo Hutchcraft doesn’t seem to believe an ounce of what he’s singing, going through the motions in a way that just seems like a withered version of his former self. Synth and dance get an outing in Thinking Of You, but it’s all so over-produced and refined for current popular taste that it becomes just as disposable.
We feel bad for Hurts, to be honest. Desire seems to have battered them into becoming something they’re very clearly not, forcing a technicolour presence when they shone in stark monochrome. By the time Wait Up comes along with its late night soul attempt, our patience is done: this fancy dress box Mother’s Day album isn’t for us, but it feels like a sell-out that might actually get the duo some bigger commercial appeal. Sigh.