Friendly Fires' Pala is way too slight most of the time—a danger in the kind of '80s sonic fetishism the album has all through it, or any sonic fetishism at all, really. But its high moment is an astounding peak. "Hurting" is an outlandish fit of adolescent anguish that's like OMD's "If You Leave" pumped full of Botox and played for dear life—as emotionally devastated a record as anybody's made in years, with or without a scrim of simulated Fairlight presets.
"Hurting" is above all dynamic—compressed all to hell, yes, but the arrangement's ebbs and swells are central to the passion it depicts, and elicits. So initially I was hugely disappointed by Carl Craig's C2 remix—well, technically there's two, but the B-side's "Instrumental" is basically the same as the A—which seemed to do little more than flatten it out. Oh, great—the basic pulse of the track, the least interesting part, was now the focus. Ho-hum.
This was a premature judgment: Craig's simple-seeming edifices tend to reveal new crannies over time, and "Hurting" is no different. It turns out that pulse, or Craig's version of it, carries the song rather nicely. The stabbing synth riff is at the verses' center tucked back in Craig's mix, and as a result Ed Macfarlane's yelping vocal floats more than it dips. It's still a bravura performance, an uncanny transmutation of '80s-Brit-soul-fan overkill (think Phil Collins) into something genuinely moving. It's good work, but it's also not one of Craig's major remixes. Those occur when he improves on the original, and in the case of "Hurting," that's probably not possible.
Buy Friendly Fires - Hurting (C2 Runway Mixes) at
Tracklist: Friendly Fires - Hurting (C2 Runway Mixes) A Hurting (C2 Runway Edit)
B Hurting (C2 Runway Instrumental)