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Hope In The Musical Darkness
The Tension And The Spark - Darren Hayes
Member Name: skendrick
The Tension And The Spark - Darren Hayes
Date: 14/10/04, updated on 18/10/04 (903 review reads)
Advantages: A return to meaningful music
Disadvantages: I can't get it out of my cd player!
I don’t know about anyone else, but all year I have been bored by the music dominating the airwaves and TV this year. It has been blanded out by endless repetition of formula and ‘talent’ shows which might find some excellent voices but then dictate the styles of music they produce. I was looking for something new and different, something which broke the mould. Funny that I should find it in the artist that I most admire.
You might know the name Darren Hayes as the lead singer of Australian duo Savage Garden, or from his 2002 hit album Spin. If you do, you’ll need to put any pre-conceptions of him aside for this one. Or you might not have heard of this talented singer-songwriter at all, which is a shame, as his newest album The Tension And The Spark is currently one of the hidden gems of the year.
It’s very hard to categorise this album, to find a niche into which it will easily fit. It is a sweeping soundscape, an emotional journey conveyed through both the honest and often blunt lyrics and carefully layered electronic music with heart. From the insistent opening bars of up-and-coming single ‘Darkness’, the music sucks you in and carries you along, through highs and lows that many of us experience during our lives. I can’t recapture the atmosphere of the album here in words, it’s far more that just and a singer and music, it’s music that makes you feel, sometimes to the point of discomfort.
It is an album of opposites, there is a stark contrast between the soothing sounds of tracks Light and Feel, and the hurt that Hayes spits out in Unlovable and Void. Both of these songs have an experimental feel to them. The vocals of the first two verses of Unlovable come out in a torrent of bitterness, while the thudding music hammers home the point. And yet, in sweet contrast there is the chorus, ‘you made me feel like my father never loved me, you make me feel like the act of love is empty, am I so unlovable?’ which conveys an aching heart so beautifully. In Void, the theme continues with the use of highly distorted guitars which jar at the nerves. Here also is one of my personal favourites lyric-wise ‘…I’ve called your name to others, just like a spinal chord, severed and broken, but the spark still tries…’
Following this is ‘I Forgive You’, a crazy mix of many influences – a touch George Michael, a bit Depeche Mode which mashes together to produce another song which oozes pain, although in this one Darren is close to conquering the hurt and recognizing that although his ex has treated him badly, forgiveness is the only way that he can move on. Be warned: this whole middle section of the album could be categorized ‘uneasy listening’, except if you’ve been there yourself and can appreciate the passion with which it has been produced. Consider this also – this is all from the guy who has been much-maligned in the past for his world-famous ballads such as Truly Madly Deeply and Insatiable. The innocence and purity of these songs is evident in Light and Feel, but love has most definitely been lost along the way. Even the most traditional Darren Hayes/Savage Garden track – Dublin Sky – is the antithesis of these ballads as he remembers the uneasiness as a relationship slipped through his fingers. This one is a real tear-jerker, and I think could be a massive hit if released as a single.
My personal favourite is ‘Sense of Humour’, the penultimate track on the album, which builds from an almost bluesy-type beginning (think George Michael’s Jesus To A Child or the like) into crescendo close to trip-hop. I know it sounds bizarre, but like the rest of the album, it needs to be heard to be appreciated. Here again are some of my favourite lyrics. ‘…All the blinking lights, noise of eternity, all the sentences whirling inside of me…’ express the bewilderment of a person lost, with nowhere left to turn except into himself, and into the darkness.
The Tension And The Spark is the story of the re-invention of a man, both as a person and as a recording artist. It’s daring, emotive, musically brilliant and lyrically beyond compare. In a few years time it might be one of those albums that everybody has in their collection. To quote ‘Love And Attraction’ – ‘Ain’t nobody willing to break the mould?’ Yes, Darren Hayes, and he’s doing it with considerable style.