Little Hurt Delivers A Set Of Alt.Pop Gems With Lovely Hours LP

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Colin Dieden, aka Little Hurt, has a lot to work out. The former singer/songwriter for indie darlings The Mowgli’s has stayed busy since he parted ways with the band a few years ago. His solo work under the nom de plume Little Hurt has garnered acclaim, but the new album Lovely Hours breaks through in a bigger way than ever before.

His love life hasn’t gone so well in recent years. The unabashed autobiographical nature of Dieden’s songwriting is fertile ground for taking stock of failed relationships, dysfunctional personal behavior, and poor coping skills. It’s also, in the end, about wading one’s way through that muck and emerging from the other side.

“Lovely Hours” opens the album. The title cut lays down a template that Dieden follows over the collection’s entirety, but with some welcome deviations. Dieden latches onto a vocal melody that hooks listeners from the first line and compliments it with sleek bouncy accompaniment. Pairing the buoyant arrangement with downcast lyrics is a foundational element of the collection and our first introduction to this method stands out. It’s one of the album’s best songs.

Shimmering guitar swells from out of the mix during the opening for “Modern Art”. The song begins in earnest with a steady yet never overpowering beat. His lyrics for this and other tracks use biting, even cynical, humor in a way that mitigates the torment blotting the surface of each performance. He keeps Lovely Hours’ songs short and snappy rather than belaboring them and testing the listener’s patience. These are snapshots from a dissolute life, but the narrator endures and survives each one.

“I Can Do Better Than You” is Dieden’s choice for Lovely Hours’ lead single. It is an astute pick. It’s a breakup song par excellence, but further notable for how Dieden doesn’t spare himself some of the blame as well. He’s promoting the single with a first-class promo video too. It’s a feast for the eyes and conveys the song’s high-octane energy with visual flair. Few performers today are equipped with the necessary skills to balance cutting-edge pop instincts with unimpeachable alt-rock credentials. Little Hurt stands among this select group.

He indulges himself and listeners by whistling past the graveyard during “Laughing at Myself”. The fatalistic turn in his personality comes across with vivid clarity. Even Dieden’s critics are beholden to admit he has a distinct ability for turning a phrase with individuality and a sharp sense of personal absurdities. He cuts “Pineapple Pizza” from similar cloth. Brief bursts of backward keyboard vamps open the song. It’s another rueful “state of disunion” reflection on a failed relationship bristling with the same hard-boiled sarcasm defining many of the other lyrics. Love has burned Dieden to a crisp and he isn’t afraid to stare at the failure in its woozy tear-stained face. Housing these bitter broadsides within glossy pop arrangements is a masterstroke that sweetens his despair for listeners.

“Cooler If U Did” is a fascinatingly dark love song. Dieden’s in love, but there’s a pervading sense of doom hanging over it, the sense of time running out on his latest relationship from the first kiss onward. The discontent is as heavy as ever. His talent for crystallizing the song’s potential with an attention-grabbing chorus hits another peak as well. Little Hurt’s Lovely Hours reveals several different sides of Colin Dieden’s life, but there’s thematic unity tying the song’s disparate strands together into an unified whole. It’s a bewitching mix of pop-rock pain, romance, and self-loathing that lingers in the memory long after the final note fades.

Jodi Marxbury

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