In these recessionary times, Hurts’ relentless pursuit of overblown pomposity has a certain charm – a bird flipped to austerity. ‘Exile’, a second album ‘gift’ to us mortals, drips with grandeur and dead-eyed emotion. It starts brightly; the opening title track is a cracking Depeche Mode-lite clanker and lead single ‘Miracle’ throbs with melodrama. But then the dross arrives – ‘Blind’ is a noxious, Take That-inspired stadium ballad, the polished po(o)p of ‘Sandman’ houses a cloying child choir and ‘The Rope’ is a faux-rave chugger gagging for a Euro-remix. This all reduces ‘Exile’ to a chilling example of naked ambition prioritising production style over songwriting substance.
Words by JOHN FREEMAN