It’s to the credit of both of the men behind Hurts that Surrender avoids the lure of the EDM scene. Especially after their involvement in Under Control, their single with Calvin Harris and Alesso that reached the top 10 of charts across Europe. At the same time, they’ve got more than enough appeal of their own without resorting to EDM: Both of their previous albums—Happiness and Exile—reached similar numbers on European charts. Between the two potential moves of adapting to an EDM style or sticking to their guns, the decision to keep it familiar on Surrender was definitely a smart one; despite a few low points here and there, there’s plenty of top quality material to enjoy.
That’s not to say they didn’t take some slight influence from Harris, though. Nothing Will Be Bigger Than Us takes a few notes from him, opening with a simple synthetic bass line and band member Theo Hutchcraft’s vocals and slowly building up towards a drop that any top EDM producer would be proud of, one that’s not overly flashy but more than gets its point across. It’s a nice change of pace from its surrounding tracks, which take on a more familiar Hurts sound.
Surrender also does a good job of keeping things fresh despite the familiarity. The acoustic guitar-style and pulsing beat of the verses on Why give the song a good unique sound, even as it moves into a familiar but solid synth-pop chorus. Lights, one of the album’s most memorable tracks, takes on a slinky, 80s throwback funk sound and tops it off with Hutchcraft’s falsetto vocals, and moves into a disco-tinged chorus that makes the package even more appealing. The first half of the album is packed with a plethora of exciting productions.
The final stretch of tracks is the album’s most inconsistent moment. Wish, the album’s piano heavy ballad, feels out of place and sounds like an attempt to end the normal edition of the album on a sentimental note more than anything. Perfect Timing lacks any real hook as it attempts to once again utilise an 80s style in a more mid-tempo setting, and Wings has some enjoyable moments but largely feels bland. Policewoman, the final bonus track, is the saving grace of this section: Its more bombastic take on a synth ballad feels more in tune to the rest of the album compared to Wish, and its interesting use of lyrical imagery—When I hear those sirens coming / My iron maiden’s running / To serve and protect my loving / The lights shine red and blue—really does help to further sell the song.
Thankfully, the weaker ending is nowhere near bad enough to bring down the entire package—especially with the help of Policewoman. There’s a nice sense of variation while retaining their own sound, which is especially appreciated on Nothing Will Be Bigger Than Us, and Lights will easily remain stuck in your head long after the album’s finished. Hurts will definitely manage to impress listeners with Surrender.