Admittedly, there's the odd track that sounds like Michael Stipe singing along to a...
Antony Hatfield 2004
Darren Hayes used to be half of Savage Garden, the band from Brisbane who sold schmaltz by the shed load. They were particularly beloved by middle America who bestowed massive Billboard #1's to the singles "Truly, Madly, Deeply" (1987) and "I Knew I Loved You" (2000).
Hayes' first solo album, Spin (2002), was confused and complacent, but his new offering, The Tension And The Spark, fails to justify the trepidation with which I approached it. Admittedly, there's the odd track that sounds like Michael Stipe singing along to a Stylophone, but credit where credit's due, Darren has matured.
Lyrically, the album has a loose central theme of emotional transition, as Hayes puts it "from darkness into light. From blame to forgiveness and, finally, to the acceptance that everything, even misery, happens for a reason." Fair enough. It's certainly a considered approach that offers an overall sense of cohesion.
The big surprise is the prevalence of old-school electronica. Co-writer and producer Robert Conley is the man responsible. His band, Specificus, toured with Hayes and he subsequently lodged in the stars back bedroom. Cohabitation led to collaboration, which proved handy as the album could literally be recorded in-house.
'Main stream vocalist meets retro synth-meister' may not sound like a marriage made in heaven, but it doesn't sound that bad either, and The Tension And The Sparksees Darren Hayes in full bloom.