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Sneak Peek: Darren Hayes " This Delicate Thing We've Made"

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In preparation of my intervew with Darren Hayes in New York later this week, I have been listening to a 7-song sampler of the singer's upcoming album "This Delicate Thing We've Made." A few weeks ago listeners were already introduced to two new songs on Hayes' MySpace page, including "Step Into The Light" that is currently impacting dancefloors with its excellent remixes.

I have been looking forward to hearing new music from Darren. I was impressed by his candor and take on making music when I first met him in March 2006. It is the combination of hooky pop tunes, his yearning tenor vocals and accessible lyrics that make him the star he is. I also admire his drive to push his artistic boundaries by going into "left-field" directions as demonstrated by the experimentation on his previous album "The Tension & The Spark."

The 7 songs on this advance disc show that Hayes is at the top his game. The narratives are complex and the confessions are personal, but he packages it in such a way that it is still pop and never tedious or long-winded. Each of these 7 tracks is a gorgeous electro-pop production that is totally contemporary but has a lot of cool '80s ingredients. This stuff is top-notch, and yes, he might even break into the U.S. pop scene with this album. These songs are that impressive. A run-down of the tracks:

"Who Would Have Thought"
Darren posted this track on his MySpace page back in April. It is a moody electro-pop song that I interpret as a reflection of Hayes' intense personal journey of the last three years. "Who would have thought the tiny courageous? Who would have thought that love so belated could save me?," he sings. The tide has finally turned for Hayes who started his own Powdered Sugar record label, came out as a gay man and married his boyfriend Richard Cullen in 2006. His vocals soar, and he even added wedding bells towards the end of the track.

"Casey"

Amazing. This track (that runs almost 7 minutes) is hands down my favorite. It kicks off with Darren and heavy keyboard strings. Around the 3 minute mark it progresses into a pop-dance track that eventually crescendos into an anthemic Balearic-style trance-dance tune that gives me goose bumps. Darren talks about the year 1989. I wonder if this song refers to a first love with lyrics like "So tired of being underrated, don't take me home. I feel life when you come and save me. I was a mixed up kid and you were my sanity." Tiesto or Armin van Buuren will have a field-day remixing this track. (Update:  Lou writes Casey is Darren's sister.)

"On The Verge Of Something Wonderful"
This track follows the theme of "Who Would Have Thought" with Hayes' proclaiming his independence and freedom. His falsetto is layered over a simple melody that is guided by hard-hitting drums.

"Step Into The Light"
A haunting electronic piano introduces the song, setting the tone for what's to come. The song turns into a disco stomper with a Donna Summer "I Feel Love" type bass drone, which creates plenty of dancefloor drama. "Step in to the light. This stuff doesn't bite you. Just wanna be your friend," he sings.

"Me, Myself and (i)"
The disco bounce continues on this track. Hayes' sped up vocals are soulful, flirty and fun. Yeah, folks. Meet Diva Hayes. The disco ball spins the night away on this one. Hayes does something robotic that could pass for a rap. Hayes lets the good times roll, "I don't know what the future will bring, but I'm willing to sing until I drop."

"How To Build A Time Machine"
Hayes' was fascinated by the idea of time travel while making this record. It could be a "storytelling device to address regret and possibility for change. I kept obsessing over the notion that if I could travel back in time to the source of my sadness as a child, I would not choose to bring back the violence or tears. Instead I'd drag joy back," he says in his bio. That idea clearly inspired this song. It is a nearly acoustic production with vocals, guitar and a simple drum machine. Only the chorus includes some synth frills and the conclusion of the track features a wild orchestral, string section. Especially touching is that Darren appears to forgive his dad for the pain he caused him during his childhood, "I call my dad and I tell him I miss him." Intense.

"The Only One"
Listening to this song, you can't stop thinking that Darren wrote this for his husband Richard. It has a simple production with a basic layering that is reminiscent of Art of Noise's "Moments In Love." Hayes appears to be glued to the mic with his vocals sounding deformed to create emphasis I assume. He tells Richard some of the sweetest things, such as "No one can keep me from the danger that is myself [but you]."

June 10, 2007 in Sneak Peek | Permalink

Comments

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Arjan,
Thank you so much for your wonderful review. Darren's new songs sound amazing! I can't wait to buy this album!!!

Posted by: CindyG at Jun 10, 2007 8:54:35 AM

Great review! So excited about this new double album.You may be interested to know that the song "Casey" is about Darren's sister ;)

Posted by: Lou D at Jun 10, 2007 9:57:53 AM

Thanks for such a great review Arjan. Can't wait to hear this album - roll on August

Posted by: Spike at Jun 10, 2007 3:59:15 PM

Can you believe it has been over 3 years since TTATS?

I'm soooo looking forward to this album...

-Nel

Posted by: Nelson at Jun 10, 2007 8:09:03 PM

Amazing review!!!
can wait to hear the complete album.
I.

Posted by: Irene at Jun 10, 2007 10:51:35 PM

August can't come quick enough

Posted by: Amanda at Jun 11, 2007 12:39:50 AM

August can't come quick enough

Posted by: Amanda at Jun 11, 2007 12:40:26 AM

Thanks so much for that great review Arjan. I am so addicted to the songs on Myspace, and cannot wait to get the album!

Posted by: Sue at Jun 11, 2007 6:05:06 AM

I went to see his London showcase last week and was impressed by his voice (although i'm honestly not sure how live it was) and how witty he was.

However, I am not sure why artists suddnely think it is appropriate to release double albums. I wouldn't want that from my favourite!

Posted by: Trixie at Jun 11, 2007 8:30:53 AM

i cannot wait for this album, thanks Arjan!!

Posted by: Apollo Zero at Jun 11, 2007 12:03:24 PM

TTATS was so long ago cant wait for this new album.....cant stop listening to the new stuff on Darren's MySpace :o)

Posted by: SandyC at Jun 11, 2007 2:27:04 PM

i seriously cant wait to listen to his new album >

Posted by: andlau88 at Jun 18, 2007 9:12:08 PM

Thank you for the comments, is my non-yet-published favourite album

Posted by: Jose at Jun 19, 2007 2:29:10 AM

Thanks for the review. I'm more excited now to buy the album, can't wait for August 20.

I also think that the lyrics to 'Step Into the Light' go:
"Step into the light - yo
This dog doesn't bite - no..."
I may be wrong, but I'm pretty sure it's dog, rather than stuff.

Posted by: Shain at Jun 20, 2007 6:59:08 AM

Great review. Thanks, Arjan. I've had the chance to see Darren in New York and again in Hollywood. His new music is shaping up as fantastic.

PS - "Casey" is indeed about Darren's sister, but her name is actually Tracey.

Posted by: Amber at Jun 24, 2007 1:30:13 PM

From "The netherlands"

I really can't wait to hear it. The Previeuw on Darrenhayes.com is amazing! I can't wait to buy this album!!!
If i can get it in Holland.

Posted by: Bart at Jun 27, 2007 7:49:45 AM

I haven't been up to much lately. Eh. I just don't have anything to say right now. I've pretty much been doing nothing worth mentioning. That's how it is. I haven't gotten anything done.

Posted by: beer ginger old tyme at Aug 11, 2007 6:56:07 PM

This album is amazing-Mark (London, UK)

Posted by: Mark Atalon at Aug 22, 2007 6:36:35 AM

This album is amazing-Mark (London, UK)

Posted by: Mark Atalon at Aug 22, 2007 7:08:01 AM

I've basically been doing nothing to speak of. Basically nothing seems worth thinking about. I feel like a void, but that's how it is. I've just been hanging out doing nothing.

Posted by: daihatsu at Sep 30, 2007 12:51:37 AM

A one-night stand is wrong, is not wrong

Posted by: xxx street asian at Feb 7, 2008 6:33:38 PM

In "The Only One", listen carefully to the intro and you will hear someone (Darren) picking up a phone. The song is set, I imagine, to sound like him calling the person and singing the song to them. At the end, you will hear the sound of someone (Darren) hanging up. I found the idea to be so cute. Your partner calling you up just to sing you this song. ^^

Posted by: Viveca at Feb 26, 2008 2:45:06 AM

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