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Review of The Tension & The Spark by Darren Hayes
Review of The Tension & The Spark by Darren Hayes I was extremely lucky in that I was invited to a pre-release listening party of this album in London back in May. As soon as the music started I felt the shivers all over my body from that incredible voice. If I could describe the overall genre of the album I would say that musically it sounds like a cross between some of Bjork's work on Vespertine mixed with the electronic beat of some of Goldfrapp's music. But really there is nothing to compare it with out there. I mention Bjork because she has the ability to paint pictures with her music in the most beautiful, artistic way and this I think is what Darren captured on one or two of the slower songs. I was thrown from feelings of such heart breaking sadness for him to wanting to just get out of my chair and dance like a banshee!! Track 1 Darkness has such an ethereal quality to it. Those lyrics I just can't get them out of my head. I think this is one of my favourites on the whole album. It's such a beautiful song, longing to be loved, yet fearing it at the same time in case he's hurt by it all over again. It's the opening chapter of this album and it's the start of a story he's been longing to tell. I was in awe at the incredible sincerity and honesty in the lyrics. The best use of lyrics here must surely be you discover that the monster you were running from is the monster in you. Track 2 I Like the Way is pretty electronic but with a heartbeat to it. It contains the lyrics to the title of the album and you can really sense the electricity in the air of attraction, ie the spark. It's such a clever way of using the music to illustrate that concept. I Like The Way is a sexy song but there is also something deeper in the moral religious connotations of what it means to be sexy. That there's a price to pay for physical pleasure. That it can't be consumed in a void without love. There's an emptiness to the act of love if love itself is absent from it Track 3 Light There's a sense of self realisation going on here. Previously Darren had said that the tracks were going to be arranged from Darkness as the first opening track to Light as the last one but decided to make it more of an interesting journey to listen to. I have wondered whether this track was in any way influenced by his spiritual feelings. It's got a very mellow sound to it and it's a very reassuring track to listen to. Beautiful guitars appear at the end of the song as it drifts off in to you are, you are. The outstanding lyrics here say it all I have been cold, I have been blind, you were sent to change my mind. Track 4 Popular He's cocking a snoop at people who sell themselves out for success by prostituting themselves at the altar of fame. He even admitted before that he's been sucked up into all this but has since taken a few steps back to get back a sense of perspective and reality. There is a real irony contained in this song about wanting to be famous for simply being famous. Track 5 Dublin Sky This is talking about hitting rock bottom, it's very emotional, with lots of violin sounds but they were actually produced with synthesisers. It's a beautiful song, very emotive and evocative of that period in his life when he was not in happy head space. I believe this was the first track written for TTATS. Track 6 Hero I just loved this song. It's got such an amazing hook to it and this was the one where I could feel my feet tapping. This could be a really good single release for him and would work brilliantly in clubs etc. It talks about not wanting people to put him on a pedestal and needing to be allowed to be human and make mistakes. Track 7 Unlovable My other favourite on this album. OMG what a painful song to listen to. I would say this definitely stems from his feelings in childhood. There are feelings of worthlessness, and a sense of desperation as he pleads and begs to be loved. He's so questioning of himself and the emotions on display here are so raw, you can feel him opening up his veins and allowing the blood to flow. There's a haunting mood to it. I felt quite trembly listening to this one and drained because of the heart rending lyrics. The mood of this song is best summed up in the lines you make me feel that my mother she abandoned me, you make me feel like my father never loved me. Track 8 Void Evokes a sense of emptiness. I think he's expressing the idea that sometimes in the public eye, a little piece of your inner soul is taken away from you and that nobody can see the real him inside. This track is almost physically painful to listen to and the line just like a spinal chord, severed and broken but the spark still tries is desperately evocative of the isolation and loneliness enveloping him in his search for true love. Track 9 I Forgive You Now the album is turning from Darren's self questioning of himself to a self realisation that he needs to forgive himself in order to forgive others and so allow himself to feel happy again. It's about letting go of the past and moving on. There is quite a sexy feel to the mood of this one. Track 10 Feel This is such an intimate song. It has a very spiritual feel to it, rather like he is confessing to someone, or addressing a third person. This is quite painful to listen to as well. There is an almost pious nature about it. It's not really to do with romantic love but with his relationship with God but not in an overtly religious way, more spiritually. Again very ethereal sounding. Track 11 Love and Attraction this is a very fast song, and electronic. It's about the endless rules of coupling. The line this strip is Mobius, it's never ending is really quite brilliant. This track would work well in clubs as it's very danceable. Track 12 Sense of Humour is full of paradoxes and is very self deprecating. It starts out as one thing, fully in control but turns out as something completely different in the swirling emotions that rise like the tide to the surface. It's a wonderful song and I love this one - another favourite. Track 13 Ego is about letting go of the ego inside, the casting off the mask of the pop star. Can be summed up in the line personal pronouns are the death of me, see I just said me For me this was a whole new experience musically. The music is artistically bold and daring. It's extremely powerful and different. I loved the layering of sounds which lend a complexity to the structure of the music. At times it felt as though sounds were being hurled at you from all sides. Their sheer unpredictability was an assault upon the senses. Some of them are totally unexpected, shocking even. Then there were sounds that literally grab you and wrap you up in them, you can almost see them and feel them swirling around you. Some creep up on you on the inside and then explode like fireworks. Others are so delicate they are barely perceptible. They are imbued with the gentlest of touches, ethereal and mystical, almost spiritual in essence as though you can feel yourself float up inside your body into your head and touch a part of your senses that you didn't know existed before. There is an almost synaesthetic feel to the music, like painting pictures with sounds. I felt at times as though I was being hurled against a wall or stabbed repeatedly with the sheer force of it. Others feel like the gentlest caress upon your skin. This was a totally sensual experience. I felt as though I was being taken to another realm or dimension inside the music. Darren has really explored the sensual side of the music, so much so that I could really delve deeply inside my mind with it. I just wanted to relax and allow the music to take me to places I'd never been before. All this combined with Darren's emotive voice and raw, passionate lyrics combines to make for a very potent, explosive mix. There are sounds and effects here that cannot be produced using traditional instruments. It's innovative and has a very new age feel to it and an album which you can totally abandon yourself to and let go. It's not an easy album to listen to because of the painful emotions expressed but sometimes in order to fully appreciate something we have to set aside any pre-conceived ideas and step outside our comfort zones. I think this album may have been conceived not purely for entertainment reasons but to communicate something infinitely more profound. From what's already been mentioned, it's deep, mysterious and intriguing as well as deeply soul searching. To me it seems as though this is a piece of work that was written and conceived not purely just for himself but for all of us in order to gain some inner knowledge about ourselves. I think there is plenty to relate to here. I do feel that Darren may have had some kind of spiritual epiphany and he's opened a door into the deepest recesses of his soul. It's difficult to listen to because it's not only his truth but it's our truth as well and there's a deep resonance that echoes in each one of us that hears it. The truth is sometimes difficult to listen to and often difficult to absorb. Songs that take you back to a place and time in your history. This is yet another chapter in the soundtrack to Darren's life. Every raw emotion spills out. It's art in it's purest form and he's a master of lyrical communication.