I remember back in 1997, I was visiting Vancouver, Canada; when I listened on the (now extinct) Virgin Records shop a song that caught my attention at the moment, a fresh voice, unknown to me, but with very catchy pop rhythms. I asked immediately who was that singer, and the answer was Darren Hayes. Back then still working with Daniel Jones under the band duo Savage Garden.
Savage Garden only released two albums, but Darren continued his soloist career from 2002. Now on 24th October he gave us a brand new album, Secret Codes & Battleships, after 4 years since the last one, and the second one since he publicly came out after having a civil partnership with Richard Cullen.
On this new production recorded around the world from Stockholm to Los Angeles and Sidney, Darren has collaborated with the likes or Robert Orton (Lady Gaga), Carl Falk (The Wanted, Nicole Scherzinger, One Direction), Phil Thornalley (Pixies Lott, Natalie Imbruglia), Steve Robxon (Taylor Swift, Take that) and Walter Afanasieff (Savage Garden’s Affirmation and Darren’s Spin)
The distinctive voice and style is present on all the songs, and in my opinion with this album he returns to the sounds that made him famous with Savage Garden, one of the best examples is the album first single Black out the Sun
Other tracks like the string-laden with techno sounds like Talk Talk Talk or God walking into the Room, show a feeling much more close to his other productions that follow a more contemporary style.
A distinctive track, is perhaps The siren’s call that has reminiscent sounds of groups like Ameno or Enigma, with orinic lyrics.
The slow ballads are also present as it’s customary with his music, that is the case of Bloodstained Heart with powerful lyrics that on words of the singer concerns the “worst day of the worst month of the worst year, but it says I will pick up your pulsing, bloodstained heart from the gutter and we will get through this, together”.
Other pieces like Don’t give up and Hurt have powerful and emotional lyrics that are an intimate story told.
The album is a very good return of Hayes to the musical scene, with slow themes and some catchy pop tunes that probably will be played is some dance floors around the world. The fact that he is giving us the traditional and particular style that fans have learned to love for some will be considered a strength, for others will be considered as a weakness, since the album doesn’t vary much on styles nor delivers innovative or experimental music. All to all, is a piece worth listening not only for die-hard fans, but all that like nice pop music.