It was never particularly cool to enjoy the music of Savage Garden. Despite (or perhaps because of) their stadium-packing success and infectious pop hooks, they were always considered a bit drivetime radio naff, a sort of Roxette for the late 90s. (I have a lot of time for Roxette too, but that’s another blog post…). In the ten years since the group disbanded Hayes has largely moved away from the MoR balladry and produced a series of interesting and at times deeply personal solo albums, but the nagging suspicion remains that it’s only really the faithful long-time fans who are still listening.
This is a shame, because Darren deserves far more than his current position as a sort of male Melanie C. His fourth solo album Secret Codes and Battleships was in many ways his most conventional since his debut, packed with the kind of soaring choruses that could probably be chart guzzling smashes in other, more Radio One-friendly hands. Unlike many artists in his position, he’s not content to rest on nostalgia; there are no attempts to re-write Truly Madly Deeply, just twelve tight, expertly crafted modern pop songs- of which Bloodstained Heart is one of the very best.
Listen to this song and imagine Coldplay had released it, or Bruno Mars. It’s not coincidental that Simon Cowell originally comissioned him to write one of the other highlights on this album – Black Out The Sun – for Leona Lewis; which he thought better of and had to fight hard to get back. Forget about I Knew I Loved You and listen without predjudice. This is one of the very best pop songs of the year, and it’s a crime that so few people got the chance to hear it.