"Home, it's where the heart is," sings Theo Hutchchraft, opening Hurts' second album in an unpromisingly clichéd if rather apt fashion. The UK synth-pop duo have enjoyed the decadent trappings of the on-tour pop-star life since the surprise success of their 2010 debut, Happiness, but returned to a cramped flat in Manchester's famous 'curry mile' to record this follow-up.
The result is a heady fusion of their two worlds, a record aimed squarely at huge live stages and thus armed with consistently immediate choruses throughout, but also a growing sense of industrial grind and gloom.
Hutchcraft and his synth-wielding colleague, Adam Anderson, cite Nine Inch Nails as one of their recent influences, and Exile's second half often mirrors that more ominous strand of stadium rock, particularly via the heavy breathing and warped guitars of The Cupid.
Even the catchiest pop song here, Blind, has a curiously sinister underbelly, as Hutchcraft implores a loved-one to "cut out my eyes." Generally they achieve the required balance though: vast but vibrant anthems that will sound mighty fine blaring from some building-sized speakers this summer.
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