HURTS + IAMX – Album Review

Science Fiction Double Feature, as one old song used to say. But my science fiction is my music, as usual, so my double feature will be comprised of HURTS and IAMX. Both of them are musical projects with their names written in capitals, so I’m guessing they mean business.

I remember the first time I heard about HURTS, while working for this website as a content editor of some sorts. They were having this concert in Romania, and it was sold out very fast, unusual for Romania and also for a band relatively unknown.


Pic here.

So far, I’ve missed their two concerts here, but I somewhat enjoyed their first album, Happiness (only about half of it, but still ok).

Another thing I remember is the comparison with Depeche Mode and White Lies. Even though I’m not a big Depeche Mode fan, I could recognize that their sound, electronica-ish as it was, it wasn’t depeche-y. But I am a big White Lies fan and for me, to be said that they are surpassed by these relatively unknown boys who like to dress up nicely to hide their pending deviations, it was too much! I was outraged by these suggested resemblances, so after the first listening of the album, I didn’t gave them a chance. That changed afterwards and I still have 2 or 3 songs from Happiness I like to listen to when I wanna feel down.

Their new album is called Exile. I’d like to think it’s their ugly child, because some of the lyrics are quite disturbing, and also the music is different. They sound so much darker than on Happiness, so now I’d like to think about them as balladeers crossed with Timbaland beats and weird, real electronica sounds. The vocals are outlandish, the music is so harsh and rough and wild and also well studied.

Exile (8) has this low volume, but such a high intensity. It’s not the peak of the album, but it’s the starting point from it can grow bigger and bigger.

Miracle (10) has passion and wilderness and fear and it’s disturbing and intense, and for that I wish I
could give it more than a 10. Also, I wish they didn’t remove the first video, it was perfect for the song. It was decadent and outrageous and I want it back!

Sandman (9) is a very disturbing composition, with Theo’s voice flowing and ticking like a clock along with the music, I almost have the impression he is dreaming.

Blind (7) starts really, really good vocally and musically, but then the lyrics hit in and… Nothing. Somehow, I don’t find it appealing listening to „Cut out my eyes and leave me blind”.

Only You (5) is not a memorable song, because it blends on the album between Blind and The Road. Lyricially speaking, I would say it’s a little bit more than the previous songs, but nothing remarkable.

The Road (9) is one of the songs that got promoted by the band. At first, I didn’t know whether I liked it or not, but when the chorus hit me, it was like a hurricane. And I couldn’t help but notice the ever present dubstep sound.

Cupid (6) is yet another song I didn’t bother remebering. The lyrics are quite simple, but the music fades away and merges perfectly with the album.

Mercy (7) sees the boys returning to their balladeers roots, along with the same dubstep rhythms on the chorus. I liked the spelling part of the word mercy, the vocals on that one verse are amazing.

The Crow (5) is another lyrically-full song, a ballad in the complete sense of the word. However, for my taste, is a little bit boring.

Somebody To Die For (8) is a song full of promises and hope, and I love it just for that one special feature of it.

The Rope (6) is yet another song about hope and all the other things that make you go on (yeah, I don’t know them, I have no name for such things), but it doesn’t have the special trait of Somebody To Die For. It does, however, have the dubstep-ish sound ever present on the album.

Help (5) is the last song of the standard edition of Exile. I was left under the impression that I wasted a lot of time listening to the second part of the album, so I can’t tell you what this part is all about.

I can definitely see progress here, more instruments, edgier sound, provoking lyrics, amazing vocals and choruses, but I will stick to my first half of the album, if I need some introspection and depression. All in all, 8/10 for HURTS and their Exile.

The second part of this double feature is IAMX. IAMX is a violent, decadent artist, with knick for saying the truth about a bunch of things, including love. His love is usually sick and twisted, and that’s the best part of it.


Pic here. I will forever and ever love this photo!

I listened to IAMX for the first time in 2008 and I was much appalled. In February 2009 I missed their concert, but in August (or September?) 2009 I listened to Missile and You Stick It In Me and I fell in love.

June 2011 saw me at their concert, watching and singing along and being genuinely happy. Volatile Times was a beautifully constructed album, but the live experience surpassed it by far.

So 2013 sees my beautiful Chris releasing The Unified Fields, another appropriate name for a beautiful piece of poetry-philosophy-depression infused music.

I Come With Knives (10) portrays Chris’ decadence perfectly, so what’s not to love about it? It’s beautiful and violent and it even has a verse in German (beautiful poetry, btw).

Sorrow (10) is here to say that, if you ever doubted Chris’ poetic abilities, you are so very wrong. Please let me enjoy my sorrow, with a Chris classic-to-be.

The Unified Fields (8). I can’t say much about this one, I’ll just let the lyrics speak for itself.

We are all insane
Counting down every single living day
We are prisoners of fate
I smile at the way everybody accepts the pain

Just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I don’t feel
Just because I don’t feel doesn’t mean I don’t understand
We are one in the unified field

The Adrenalin Room (7) is one of the songs that makes me think Chris took up Chemistry lessons. Oh, and also he studies anger!

Quiet the Mind (10) is definitely my favorite song off this album. How can I not love it? It deserves a special place in Chris’ work, alongside Spit It Out, Bloodsport, Missile, Volatile People, Tear Garden…

Under Atomic Skies (7) explores the same chemical issue, while suggesting nakedness. It wouldn’t have been Chris, if it were otherwise!

Screams (6) I don’t get. I listened to it, it’s tempo second-dependent, but it didn’t move me. I’m guessing he wanted to say too much, in too little time.

Come Home (9) hit me just were it should’ve. I feel like talking to myself, since I am for too long lost.

Animal Impulses (8). No explanations, just this.

I’m tired of this human duet
No civilizing hides
Our animal impulses.

Walk With The Noise (9) fool’s world, game, blows ripping, souls, killing me, terror, propaganda, flesh and blood. Excerpts of the song, powerful SOB!

Land of Broken Promises (8) starts out as weird, then we have a silent guitar, while Chris tells us the story. I have the feeling I listened to this song already, but I’m guessing it’s because the recurring theme in his work (The Stupid, The Proud).

Trials (8) of course it’s about demons in us, about acceptance and a half-hearted hope!

I couldn’t help but notice the score-y sound this album has. It’s full of instruments and it’s grandiose and it has power, I saw fit for Tarantino movies at least two of tracks (Walk With The Noise & The Adrenalin Room, maybe Land of Broken Promises too). 9/10 from my part. Please enjoy it!

The Princess

I was born in Lake Placid. Everything I ever did was in self defense, just trying to hide myself from me.

As I grew up in my father’s house, I began to understand that stairs and blankets don’t shelter me, and I began to believe that somebody touching you would be the greatest achievement.

My room was filled with dolls and nice clothes and I even had a telephone in my room. In my dresser I used to store all my clothes and all my dreams, and I used to play in there.

I started reading at the early age of five, but mostly because my mommy was busy drinking and my daddy was away again. Cartoons were boring, so I had my books and my music to keep me warm, and Maria would come at 9 pm to tuck me into bed.

Our home was surrounded by big fences and tall trees and I was so little, I couldn’t see past them. But my books taught me to see beyond the horizon. I started dreaming about the world outside, and I started hearing the music so much louder…

As I grew up, so did my mother’s habit to drink. And as I grew up, my father started to come by rarely and every time he brought with him different scents and hairs on his coat, and also lots of presents for me. But nothing for my mother. She was busy with Jorje.

I left my big home at 15. It was the first time I went away by myself. Well, not technically by myself. It was just a private school, where I could be with people of my age, without any parents around.

It was a mixed school, so I remember so well no fitting in with the girls. I remember the first time I drank vodka in the bathroom, with one of the boys. He later asked me to suck his penis. Which I tried to do, but it grossed me out.

I remember how no one used to sit with me during lunch , or dinner. I used to sit all alone, and I devoured a book during a week’s time, because no one would talk to me.

The first time I went back home, nobody came to pick me up from the boarding school, so I had to take a bus home. I remember that first voyage as a defining one, because I remember looking out the window at the people outside and thinking how much I loved their freedom, their carelessness, their simplicity. And at home all I had was broken parents with money.

Years have passed, and with each bus that I took, I grew closer to the people in those small cities. They were so abrupt and so sincere, at first they used to look at me all grossed out. But as the time passed, everything seemed easier and they accepted me eventually.

I used to admire the motorcycle gangs. They seemed so wild and so free, like they had not a care in the world. Their hair was all tangled and mostly dirty, and they had tattoos all over their bodies. Their leather jackets would fascinate me, the way they molded over their bodies. I used to look at them, but mostly at their women.

The women were so independent, and they weren’t scared to say to their man „fuck off”. That was what I liked about them. I used to look at their jeans, hugging their bodies, and those biker boots that looked so feminine somehow…

On my last trip home, I stayed with them. I let the bus pass by me, and I entered the bar. All eyes were on me, but I just blushed a little and I went to the bartender. I asked for a scotch and he looked at me. He wanted to say something, but he just nodded and gave me my drink.

For a while, I just sat there. The smoke was becoming more like a fog, and I hadn’t finish half of my drink. The music was not that loud, but I couldn’t understand what it was. My dress was white, with ruffles. Over it I had a denim jacket, and I had some tan cowboy boots. Next to me, my backpack. With everything. Money, IDs, memories.

He came to me. He was taller than me, maybe 6 feet, maybe 6 and a half. He had the leather jacket of the MC I have been watching since forever, and he had a beer belly. His smile would’ve been so charming, if not for a crooked tooth. Still, he seemed like a good man. He wanted to sit next to me, and I understood he was 35. I said „yes”, and I ended up in his room. It had a pinball machine and that is where I had sex for the first time.

I remember nothing of those days, except that I had sex with him and we used to drink together. He introduced me to his gang, and the guys liked me. Not the women, though.

When he started hitting me, I used to wish my daddy was there. But since he wasn’t, I had to defend myself. But I couldn’t. Every time he hit me, he promised he wouldn’t do it again. And he would keep his promise, but after two or three days, he would hit me again.

His friends used to look at my bruises with pity, but soon they got used to them. Only one guy, a blonde one, even taller than the crooked tooth guy (I keep forgetting his name), he used to come to me and looked at me, saying nothing.

After a while, and after both my left eye and my upper lip were bruised, he came to me and said „Let’s run away together”. And we did.

His motorcycle was our home, the road was our bitch. We used to hop on it after two or three bottles of whiskey, and we used to race to the sunset. We never did reach it, but we always tried.

Those were the best days of my life. I was happy, truly happy. Even if I hadn’t had food or water, I had someone that cared for me. He used to run into the fields or into the backyards of the houses in towns we visited, and collect flowers.

One time, he climbed on the City Hall in this small town and he took the flag down and hand it to me. I stripped and I took the flag from his hands and wrapped it around my naked body. He started laughing so much and we made love right there, on the flag.

He used to bring me chocolate after we had too much vodka and he always got me vanilla muffins. We started thinking about getting a dog, while I watched him clean his motorcycle.

The road was good to us and I don’t know how much time we spent driving. I just know I was happy and it was the first time I didn’t need my daddy.

One night we were at this bar. Smoke all over the place, everybody was drunk. Country music was playing. And this huge, fat guy started a fight, out of nowhere, and my boyfriend went outside before I could stop him. And, before I knew it, he was outside, in the cold, dead. Just lying there, in the night. No one around.

I cried over him, but I went back inside. I drank myself under the table, I don’t know how much. I woke up in a room. I think it was a hotel room, but my memories were too fuzzy.

Next to me there was this guy, he must’ve been at least 50. With a bald patch in the front and a ponytail in the back. He was skinny and shorter than me, and he was covered with tattoos. We were both naked and I think… No, I am sure we had sex.

I woke him up and said he should go away, which he did. I was alone for a few hours, and around 4 pm I noticed a bottle of rum. It wasn’t full, but it still had more than half of it. I drank it all, and went back to the bar.

As I entered, the ponytail looked at me and wanted to say something, but I ignored him and he stopped. As I drank more scotch, another guy came to me. He was a normal looking guy, with glasses and a suit, and we went back to the motel room. We got drunk and we had sex, and at six am I kicked him out.

The same story happened the next day, and the day after that, and the days after that. I can’t remember why I did that, but I remember that I was alone. Sometimes, I asked the guys I had sex with to drive me somewhere. And they did. A few of them treated me badly, but I didn’t care anymore.

All I wanted now was booze and a roof. I was ever cold and ever lonely, and the bars became my home. I missed him and I missed my home, but I was so sick of me, I couldn’t go back there. So my place was nowhere and I was left to wander through the country, with a flag in my backpack and a bottle of something in my hand.

I wish I could’ve learn to ride his motorcycle. I could’ve run away with it, drive into this world, and not feel so alone. I wish I could just ride.