Darren Hayes review

19 Sep

Last week I wrote about new music by Darren Hayes.

The former Savage Garden lead singer has released his third solo record, “This Delicate Thing We’ve Made,” a month ago on his indie label, Powdered Sugar.

“This Delicate Thing…” is a two-disc pop monster, and most of it very synth-heavy. I’m a fan of albums that sound like albums – where the music and feel is cohesive and works together, but each song has a separate life of its own. And Hayes has accomplished this even on a double record.

A lot of important things have happened to Hayes since he released his last record – he married his husband, Richard, and has been speaking more openly about a troubled childhood, so these are two big themes on the new record. As someone who’s followed his career since the first Savage Garden record, it feels like Hayes is finally comfortable in his own skin. He’s not afraid to say or do anything…which is, as it is for everyone, both a blessing and a curse.

Hayes has some absolutely brilliant ideas in this album, but there’s just too many things going on. There’s talk of love and relationships, God, Iraq, Paris Hilton, quantum physics and imaginary numbers. You wish a producer or someone around stopped the less-than-stellar ideas and encouraged the smart ones.

“Me, Myself and (I)” is still my favorite song on the album, but there are also other gems.

The first two songs, “A Fear of Falling Under” and “Who Would Have Thought?” are powerful to hear together. They play off each other well and it’s exquisite.
“Step Into the Light” is another brilliant song – it’s simply glorious.

Hayes goes a little theatrical with cuts like “Waking the Monster” and “How to Build a Time Machine.” Those two sound like they could be featured in a Broadway musical (but that’s pretty cool, actually).

Hayes missteps seriously when he tries to get political. He has terrific ideas – especially about rights for gays and lesbians (as he says in “Bombs Up in My Face” — “You can carry a gun/But you’d better not fall in love with someone”) – but he repeats the same ideas in a couple different songs, like “Bombs Up in My Face” and “The Great Big Disconnect.” As he sings in “The Great Big Disconnect” — “Somebody just killed a man/And I forgot to moisturize.” And he says basically the same thing in “Bombs Up in My Face” — “I’d like to get a suntan/Some dude was shot in Pakistan.”

Speaking of “Bombs” – easily the weakest song on the album – it’s pretty well a rap song. Bless his heart, Hayes has tried rapping for years, even back on SG b-sides, and it’s never really worked. His best attempt is in “Me Myself and (I),” and even that’s a little weak.

If you’re looking for something that sounds like Savage Garden, your best bet is his first single, “On the Verge of Something Wonderful.” It’s purely AC, like a lot of SG’s stuff. It almost feels out of place on “This Delicate Thing…”

The best thing about this album, and everything else Hayes does, is his voice. If you love it, you’ll love the album; if you could take it or leave it, the album may leave you a little cold.

I was impressed at how Hayes uses his voice on this record. He’s really stretching it and it all works. I don’t know if any songs on the album are truly a Capella, but he heavily uses his voice as his music for a few of songs. It creates a Timbaland-like effect for a few tunes, so he knows what he’s doing there.

“This Delicate Thing We’ve Made” isn’t a solid 10, but I still like hearing the record as a whole. If you’re a former SG fan, pick it up and be amazed. For the casual listener, you may have to pick and choose what you get.

Top picks: “Me, Myself and (I),” “Step Into the Light,” “A Fear of Falling Under,” “Lucky Town,” “Neverland,” “Who Would Have Thought?” “Casey,” “Words,” “The Sun is Always Blinding Me,” “A Conversation with God,” “The Future Holds a Lion’s Heart”

You can hear a few tracks and see videos for some of the songs on Darren Hayes’ Web site.

One Response to “Darren Hayes review”

  1. maria magaña March 22, 2009 at 9:50 pm #

    good review!! this is amazing album.

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