When the British duo Hurts released their last studio album, Exile, in 2013, it went on to sell over a million copies worldwide and top charts around the globe. So why, when they went back into the studio to record this month’s Surrender, did they decide to do almost everything differently?
“After that experience, the first thing we wanted to do this time was put down all of our weapons and go at it right,” says singer Theo Hutchcraft. “We needed to start fresh, to throw all of the blueprints out the window and just write the music as it came.”
After making their first two albums in Manchester, the band decided to take recording on the road and seek inspiration from the world outside a traditional studio. “The first place we went was to the Alps in Switzerland, which is one of the most extraordinary landscapes you can ever see,” Hutchcraft says. “We started there, which was a complete change—it was a place with big blue sky and I felt calm—and then we went to L.A.”
And while the City of Angels initially appealed because of its agreeable weather and laid-back vibe, the band soon found it was a different side of town that was more inspirational. “We gradually saw the darker undertones of L.A.,” Hutchcraft says, “which are also very appealing. Often, these places that are like paradise attract a type of person who is on the run from something. I think that made it more appealing to us as we were making music.” Not that you can really tell when you listen to Surrender, an addictive collection of synth-soaked pop that one review has already said is “packed with skyscraping highlights.”
With the kind of reception, it’s no wonder Hutchcraft says the band isn’t planning to give up its peripatetic existence when it comes to future recordings—some of which are already in the works. “We’re ready to keep going,” he says. “We’re ready to move in a different direction; what we thrive on is being able to shape shift. I don’t know what is going to happen next, but what I do know is it will be a very different album.”