As Adam Ant once said, ridicule is nothing to be scared of – words Hurts should take to heart, as their second album will provoke a fair bit of it. Anyone who doesn't revel in the sound of twentysomethings recreating 1980s pomp-rock should look away now: though the duo now incorporate spasms of grotty, Nine Inch Nailsy guitar (check out The Road and Cupid, in particular), Exile is still defined by its synth-pop froideur. The billowing music is matched by towering emotions: the lyrics to Miracle and several others suggest that vocalist Theo Hutchcraft is feeling thoroughly messed around by an intimate ("Look at all the damage you have done/ In time you can see what a savage I've become"). This state of high drama is sustained over the whole album; even relatively scaled-down numbers, such as The Crow, are weighty with gloom and regret. Luckily, Hutchcraft and keyboardist Adam Anderson are also endowed with that other pomp-rock characteristic – a gift for striding, anthemic choruses that turn even the most overwrought songs into unshakeable earworms.
Hurts: Exile – review
Caroline Sullivan writes about rock and pop for the Guardian