samedi 29 octobre 2011

No need of secret codes to love Darren Hayes' new album !

Today is the day I have finally received Darren Hayes' new album in my post, the 2CD deluxe edition of Secret codes and battleships imported with, and first of all, let me say it is a beautiful package, all wrapped up like a book with full lyrics and photos, a piece of art I am proud to have between the hands.
But don't let me get fooled by the package : the music is as beautiful too and let me take you to a journey into Darren's latest musical world, track by track :

written by Darren Hayes, Steve Young & Robert Conley
produced by Darren Hayes, Justin Shave & Robert Conley
Only piano notes starts the album, and its first song, for a while, before the orchestral arrangements first, then Darren's voice, follow. From the start I knew that Taken by the sea would be a mid-tempo but when comes the chorus, it has evolved a little into a power ballad. I especially love the lines "I am an island and you are the ocean..." and the rhythm of that romantic love song.

2. DON'T GIVE UP 3:44
written by Darren Hayes & Steve Robson and produced by Steve Robson
Don't give up
's intro changes the pace and with this second track, we're in for a faster uptempo dance/pop -though still love- song. On this one, Darren stands up to fight for his love against time that passes by. I believe this one in particular must be dedicated to his man, Richard, who gets an album dedication at the end of the credits : "for Richard, my lionheart" and I still feel this metaphore in the song's lyrics when it goes "you'll be a brave heart, I'll be a lion's roar and love surrenders to win the war..." At the end, it has very nice falsetto vocals and warm adlibs but all in all, although it is a good song, upbeat, it maybe doesn't go the way a potential single could be.

written and produced by Darren Hayes, Phil Thornalley & Mads Hauge
Nearly love follows, with Darren's warm voice and rhythm guitars in the intro, before the rhythm builds up with more electronic sounds and even orchestral strings. This song is stuck in between the angelic romantic side of Darren and his devilish sexy and funky double : it is a very nice melting-pot and this one could easily become a single ; the chorus is catchy, especially with the opening "and now I love you, love you" lines, and it belongs to Darren's post-Savage Garden/Spin mainstream popsong inspiration theme, I feel, sort of universal love song that could appeal to everybody.

written and produced by Darren Hayes & Carl Falk
Darren said about Black out the sun that it was a song he wrote with Leona Lewis in mind, but in the end kept for him as he felt even the songs he wrote with another singer in mind was about (and for) him... It would be nice to hear what Leona would have made of it, but fact is I like Darren's version like it is : a pleasant mid-tempo with a melodramatic melody for the chorus where Darren's voice goes higher than ever. The calm handclapping-like rhythm gives this song force and persuasion to lead it into our head and make us fall in love with it. This one has been chosen as the second single off the album on these international shores, whereas in his native land Australia, it is Bloodstained heart that has been chosen but Black out the sun will be the third anyway... Shall I add the boys from the 7th Heaven team have remixed it like they did for the first single and that it's heaven on earth once more !

written and produced by Darren Hayes & Carl Falk
Talk talk talk was the first single Darren released at the end of 2010 to have a comeback in his fans' heart to announce the short coming of his fourth solo album ...and what a comeback single ! I think I'll never get bored of it ! From the start and its electro loops, this collaboration song with swedish Carl Falk won me over and I fell deeply into the hypnotic groove of the verses, the über-catchy chorus, and I can't help singing along with Darren on the chorus lines "Just breathe in and out because all I wanna do is just talk talk talk to you..." I think the "talk talk talk" gimmick is in fact a "toc toc toc" magic password Darren Hayes has found to let his voice enter our brains and fecond it with his vitality, love and passion. I don't understand how this pure addictive hitsong hasn't been the worldwide hit it deserved to be !

written and produced by Darren Hayes & Carl Falk
Next is Darren Hayes' third (or second in Oz) single off the album, and Darren gets back into romantic melancholia with this third song in a row that has been written/produced by the same duo although they don't sound the same at all. After several listens, I have found a deeper magic spell in Bloodstained heart than in Black out the sun. Maybe it is because the slow tempo that starts the song speeds itself up little by little to become a nearly anthemic pop/rock explosion, but I really like it now, with the beautiful melody of the chorus and the drums that make me think of it as a Coldplay kind of song ; it could become a big hit and it has a very strong video too so ...fingers crossed !

written and produced by Darren Hayes & Justin Shave
Nice background vocals and tickling sounds make the inspirational intro for the following track, and this God walking into the room could become a fourth single in a row if released one day. It has the potential catchiness and nice harmonies, although there is an omnipresent electric guitar's sound that annoys me a little. Its presence increases even more in the bridge a la Slash, but it is okay then ; I'm used to that sound I don't really hear in the usual dance/pop records I listen to :).

8. HURT 3:20
written by Darren Hayes & Steve Lironi
produced by Darren Hayes & Justin Shave

Hurt starts with electro piano notes and soft vocals by Darren and it makes me think of an electro lullaby for the kids of the 22nd century, but it is a false impression : when the chorus comes, the song gets empowered by strong vocals and catchy rich melodies that stay of high standard with second verse, with more orchestral arrangements and strings added too, and I think Darren's got a pure hit here ! It screams out to be released as a single very soon !!!! My second favourite song here after Talk talk talk, for sure.

9. ROSES 4:19
written by Darren Hayes & Walter Afanasieff and produced by Walter Afanasieff
Darren joins forces back with Walter Afanasieff, who worked on Savage Garden's Affirmation album and Darren's Spin first solo, for these musical Roses. I don't know why, maybe it is because of the usual ballads mister Afanasieff wrote for Mariah Carey, but I was fearing their new collaboration would be a sweet mid-tempo/ballad and guess what : it is not ! Instead, even though the intro is very calm and atmospheric, the song is a patchwork of rhythm with mid-tempo verses but very uplifting electronic pre-chorus and you got an upbeat chorus with good melody that stay in the head. The bridge and outro calm down the song back and I feel this one could easily be picked up by EMI as a further single too, as it belongs to the romantic imagery people picture for Darren's music.

written by Darren Hayes & Robert Conley
produced by Darren Hayes, Justin Shave & Robert Conley
Written and produced by the nearly same people behind the album's opening track, Stupid mistake goes the opposite way with a super-catchy upbeat pop/rock number that makes my feet tap along all through it. Although very addictive, I don't see it as single potential, maybe because of its apparent simplicity or old-school rock'n'roll-esque rhythm... Only one thing sure though : I like it A LOT !

written and produced by Darren Hayes & Brian West
Cruel cruel world sounds like it was supposed to be from its title : I mean, it looked like it should be a painful song about sad things and even though it is not a full-on plaintive mid-tempo/ballad, it really has powerful rhythms at moments, with acoustic guitar too, and Darren's chant goes perfectly the way to personify the hurt one should feel lost alone in today's world, addicted to pills to be able to get through, but as the uplifting melody means it, Darren's saviour is his love, and this song is cheerful in the end ; a nice album track.

written and produced by Darren Hayes & Carl Falk
More inspirational chants starts the last track of the standard edition of the album and ends the first CD of my deluxe edition. The siren's call doesn't sound like in a church, as it belongs more to religious african vibes as I feel it. It is a nice change of atmosphere for this calm but powerful mid-tempo song with full strings and pleasant drama.

Deluxed Edition Bonus Disc extras :
1. EXPLODE 4:26
written and produced by Darren Hayes & Brian West
The first extra song from the Deluxe package is an upbeat song whose rhythm reminds me of Stupid mistake's rock'n'roll vibe. It is more synthpop though and could have easily been included in the standard tracklisting. The beat is addictive, the vocals are good as always, and the lyrics see Darren go back to his sometimes trademark plentiness, I mean, I like it how Affirmation speeded up the rhythm by having words following words after words, lyric lines after lines, and Explode is one of that sort : Darren Hayes is a wonderful lyricist, and a singer who knows how to sing lines after lines like a rapper with melodic sense and without losing his breath.

2. PERFECT 4:27
written by Darren Hayes & Rick Nowels
produced by Darren Hayes & Justin Shave
keeps with the electronical arrangements but calms the pace a little, even though it doesn't even sound like a mid-tempo at all ! The song is a beautiful pop/dance song, with childish elements sometimes hidden in the background, like this toy piano little notes. Once again, it should have been part of the standard album because it is too good to be wasted unknown. I think everybody that intends to buy Darren Hayes' Secret codes and battleships album should only buy this Deluxe Edition of it. Else, he'll get robbed of high quality pop !

written and produced by Darren Hayes & Brian West
Tiny little flashlights is the third song Darren wrote and produced with canadian Brian West and another whose acoustic elements are mixed with more electro arrangements to reach a perfect sound that belongs either to yesterday and tomorrow's world, and make Darren's music intemporal for sure. This one is some sort of an atmospherical mid-tempo that sounds warm to the ears.

4. NOTHING 3:32
written by Darren Hayes & Robert Conley
produced by Darren Hayes, Justin Shave & Robert Conley
is another song Darren has done with long-time collaborator Robert Conley and another pleasant mid-tempo but with a catchy chorus that spices things up a little when it comes. The end is uplifting and has very nice vocal harmonies that are the perfect transition to the next track.

5. GLORIOUS 6:18
written by Darren Hayes & Robert Conley
produced by Darren Hayes, Justin Shave & Robert Conley

Glorious starts like it will become some kind of an anthemic pop brilliant moment, with calm intro with full strings and standard Darren vocals & melody, I mean, this one is instantly recognizable as Darren Hayes. Verses and choruses follow each other with romantic/melodramatic atmosphere and it finally reaches climax where only Darren's voice stays strong on a thin lay of strings, nearly angelic, and it sounds as if Darren had been rocketing into the sky till he reached heaven and have found happiness fall down back on earth. At 4'30, it sounds as if the song is gonna end but then violins errupt in the speakers and the song goes full philarmonic and instrumental for more beauty and a perfect ending for this extended tracklisting.

6. TALK TALK TALK (Live in the Attic) 4:03
7. BLACK OUT THE SUN (Live in the Attic) 4:16
To end this Deluxe Edition as an encore, Darren Hayes has re-recorded his two singles in his own home-studio in the attic, in stripped-down and slowed-down acoustic versions with only his voice and accompanying keyboards. Talk talk talk is beautifully tear-busting while Black out the sun becomes more cheerful than in its original version with the uplifting sound of piano in the background.
I don't miss remixes on this CD because I think it couldn't have ended better than with those two live-recorded versions and all in all, like it is be supposed to be with every good album, there is only one single need when those last song's last note echoes : play it all again !

Although still on a 2CD package like This delicate thing we've made was, this new Darren Hayes album may sounds tighter, with a shorter tracklisting, and even though Darren has worked with many collaborators on it, either songwriters & producers, the whole thing sounds as a whole, with songs' universes not too dissimilar from one another, and this marks the difference with other artists that pick up songs on pre-recorded demos with studio session singers and record them to make an album ; with Darren Hayes getting as always involved at 200% in the songwriting and production of his music, you only get one thing while listening to his albums -and this one is no exception- , and it is full access to the man's soul, and it shines good ! It's a level higher than the standard pop I listen to (and like) most of the time. His music is designed to last : I'm pretty sure I'll still be listening to these Secret codes and battleships in years and years from now on !

1 commentaire:

  1. I love this album, like all his solo albums, this one is great. My favourite song is "Stupid Mistake" but I hate the video he has made for it. With his batman's vilain "Joker" make up on it, it's just unwatchable, how could he ruin the song that had the best chance of being a hit that way, it's beyond me.

    But there are a lot of great songs here "Bloodstained heart", "Taken By The Sea", "Cruel Cruel World", "God Walking Into The Room", I almost love them all.

    But to me even though "This Delicate Thing We've Made" and even "Spin" (even though some fans hate that one, I don't) were a little bit better, his masterpiece will always be the hauntingly beautiful "The Tension And The Spark"