Release Date: August 21, 2007
Label: Powdered Sugar
So it's finally here: the much anticipated double album release by Darren Hayes. I may show my youth here, but Savage Garden’s (the duo Darren once provided vocals for, as if you didn’t know) debut album was the first cd that I ever bought. In the decade since that purchase, the band’s two albums have continued to hold a very special place in my heart. Hayes’ solo albums? Less so. Spin was alright, if too wannabe-popstar, while The Tension & The Spark was a major step up, yet a bit sonically distant for my tastes. Pleasantly, This Delicate Thing We’ve Made is the best post SG record Hayes has produced. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.
Falling victim to the same curse that all double albums (with very few exceptions) succumb to, the record could use some trimming. My biggest complaint is that the album doesn’t stay focused as completely as I wish it would on the elaborate and potentially provocative concept of time travel that Hayes sets up brilliantly in the early highlight How To Build A Time Machine. It’s a concept album that too often strays from the concept. Remove the stale commentary of Bombs Up In My Face and The Great Big Disconnect and you’ve already got a stronger album. All they serve to do is distract from the larger story, seemingly tacked on to give Hayes a chance to embrace his inner Prince (the former) and Lennon (the latter). Still, enough complaining, because there is a whole lot in this sprawling work to love. The opening suite of songs (the ferocious Fear Of Falling Under bleeding seamlessly into the jubilant Who Would Have Thought) is dead-on. I wish Hayes would have worked with Guy Chambers (his songwriting partner on Who Would Have Thought) more, for their collaboration hints at unlimited potential. The much lauded Casey lives up to the hype, a soaring epic of a pop song and probably the best work Hayes has created since Savage Garden broke up. Similarly, first single On The Verge Of Something Wonderful and the pounding Future Holds A Lion’s Heart that precedes it are both easily stronger than anything on the past two records. And, I haven’t even mentioned the slower stuff. The stately acapella Walk Away, the towering Maybe, and the very Savage Garden-esque Sing To Me are all highlights, and even if the record goes on too long, these kind of tracks tent pole the release and keep up the momentum.
As double albums go, This Delicate Thing We’ve Made is pretty high up there. At twenty-five tracks, it could easily be pruned into something even greater (I’d say about twenty tracks oughtta do it) and it’s to Hayes’ immense credit that he was able to create such an expansive work with so very few clunkers. In a perfect world, it would be his great comeback… no time machines required. A-
Key Tracks: Casey, How To Build A Time Machine, Who Would Have Thought?