“Fun”. “Joyous”. “Positive”. Not words usually associated with Hurts’ broodingly theatrical pop, but ones that pepper singer Theo Hutchcraft’s descriptions of the Manchester duo’s forthcoming third LP ‘Surrender’ – set for release on October 9.
Written and recorded variously in Ibiza, New York, Los Angeles and the Swiss Alps throughout 2014, the entire process was designed to facilitate maximum good vibes and for the most part the results seem set to echo their upbeat surroundings. “It was quite a dark time making the last record [2013’s ‘Exile’] and the content was quite reflective of our state, but once we’d finished it and exorcised the demons our mood shifted quite a lot,” reveals Hutchcraft of the process. “We recorded the last two albums in Manchester, but this time we decided to see how things would turn out if we enjoyed ourselves and went to some exciting places. It made us look outwards for the first time in a long time. The second record was very internal and very intense so we craved the opposite. Now, at this stage in our lives, to make a record that would sound as dark as the second or as melancholy as the first wouldn’t be a true reflection of us.” He pauses. “That’s not to say it’s all a barrel of laughs though; we’re still drawn to the darker side.”
Citing Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, the “backing singers and gospel choirs” of Motown and Hutchcraft’s lifelong love of electronic music as influences, ‘Surrender’ – so named for the simultaneously “negative and positive connotations” it evokes – is Hurts’ attempt at a “bold and brilliant pop record”. Lead single ‘Some Kind Of Heaven’, which was unveiled in May and features potentially the most audible dance influence from the pair – completed by synth player Adam Anderson – to date, showcases one element of the record, but as for the rest, Hutchcraft is keeping schtum. “I don’t want to give the surprise away yet. I still believe in magic!” he laughs, when pressed on the subject. He does, however, concede that there’s “a boldness to [the first single] that’s indicative of what the record is like”. “We plan on unveiling a much bigger, broader picture over the next few months which should delight and surprise people in equal measure,” he adds, coyly.
Helping the band paint the picture are three of pop’s finest producers: Jonas Quant, who worked on ‘Exile’ and debut ‘Happiness’, StuartPrice (Madonna, Take That) and Ariel Rechtshaid (Haim, Sky Ferreira). “Jonas brings darkness, Stuart brings a great vibrancy and Ariel has a more leftfield, creative mind, so we couldn’t ask for anything better,” says Hutchcraft of the combination. And in the crossroads of all these attributes sit Hurts. “’Exile’ was a record we had to make and this one is reactionary in a way, but fundamentally we’re a pop band and we make pop records,” he concludes. “This is an album made in great places, with big blue skies. We just wanted to present a potent version of the band that we are.”