Darren Hayes: when music is nothing but art

Those who know me know that I’m a huge fan of Darren Hayes. Darren is known as the singer and songwriter of the Aussie duo Savage Garden who met a massive success worldwide in the 90s and early 2000s.

I Want You, To The Moon and Back, Truly Madly Deeply, Affirmation, I Knew I Loved You, Crash & Burn, etc. These are some of Savage Garden’s songs that became major hits all over the world and became timeless classics.

Despite their success, the duo finally split following the personal decision of Daniel Jones — musician, songwriter and producer — to leave the band as he wasn’t aligned with himself anymore. But Darren pursued his career in music as a solo artist and released four albums since then.

Darren didn’t meet as much success as a solo artist than he did as a member of Savage Garden. However, he still has a strong international fanbase.

In my opinion, he may not be as popular as he truly deserves but he remains one of the best artists of his generation.

If you don’t know his work either as part of Savage Garden or as a solo artist, I highly recommend you to listen to all of it. You won’t regret it: his work speaks for himself.

And I suggest you to listen to the albums in the chronological order. This way, you can have a better idea of how his music not to say his art, has evolve over the years.

» Darren Hayes discography

Savage Garden (self-titled debut album) [1997];
Savage Garden — Affirmation [1999];
Darren Hayes — Spin [2002];
Darren Hayes — The Tension & The Spark [2004];
Darren Hayes — This Delicate Thing We’ve Made [2007];
Darren Hayes — We Are Smug (with Robert Conley) [2009];
Darren Hayes — Secret Codes & Battleships [2011].

I chose to speak about his four solo albums. You’ll find below my comments on his work.

Spin [UK collector’s Edition]

Visual identity
Note: The edition I have from this album is not the classic edition so my comments are based on the one I own.

The booklet is in black and white slightly blue-grey and printed on high-quality paper. It contains six lovely photos of Darren who came back to his natural hair color just for this era (he used to dye his hair black when he was in Savage Garden). There’s no lyrics, only the songs’ credits and his Thank You message. The typography used is simple and modern. Same about the layout.

Overall, the visual identity is soft, simple but effective and shows Darren in a natural way. I think it sticks to the album’s atmosphere.

Musical style
Spin is a pop album including 12 tracks. Four songs were released: Insatiable which became a hit across the globe, Strange Relationship, I Miss You & Crush (1980 Me).

What do I say about it
Personally, I don’t really see this album as the first of Darren Hayes because, I may be wrong but, I feel like there’s a will to make Savage Garden’s style live on.

Some of my favourite songs
Insatiable, I Can’t Ever Get Enough Of You, Like It Or Not, Spin

The Tension & The Spark

Visual identity
Darren is back with darker and shorter hair. He’s also more fit as you can see on some photos…

With only the cover, we can see that the visual identity of this album is stronger than the previous one. And it is confirmed by looking inside.

There is a retro style shown by the colour scheme and serif font used. You can also see a vintage atmosphere in the pictures via the colours and old elements (old TV screens, telephone, etc.)

There’s a good balance between photos and texts. This time, the lyrics are included. I really like the photos. They are powerful and full of meaning.

This visual identity is totally part of the music, of the content of the album.

Musical style
Darren took a risk and came with a darker style for this album but I think he did great! He actually got positive reviews from critics. This record regroups pop and electronic music and includes 13 tracks. Only two official singles were released: Pop!ular & Darkness.

What do I say about it
In my opinion, The Tension & The Spark is the real first album of Darren. It is a very personal album and shows different sides of him both as a person and an artist. I have even more love and respect for him and his work since he released this masterpiece which should have had more success.

Some of my favourite songs
Darkness, I Like The Way, Dublin Sky, Hero, Sense of Humor

This Delicate Thing We’ve Made

Visual identity
The universe of this visual identity is studied, it’s all in the details. The booklet design is elegant, creative and has an intellectual/brainy side. It regroups a few of Darren’s interests as his love for 80’s music, movies and more.

The booklet includes some photos of Darren and different graphic elements such as illustrations and handwriting fonts. No lyrics but detailed credits and Thank You message from the artist that show parts of his lovely personality.

The main font used is modern and enhanced by ornate initial letters in several places of the text zones. The main colours of the booklet are black, white and blue; and is printed on a high-quality paper.

Globally, the visual identity is modern with a nostalgic feeling.

Musical style
This Delicate Thing We’ve Made is a double album that offers pop and electronic tracks. Interesting fact: An 1982 Fairlight CMI synthesizer has been used on all the songs. Three songs were released: On The Verge Of Something Wonderful, Me, Myself and I & Casey.

Darren admitted in an interview that this record, released on his own label Powdered Sugar, contains only one or two songs that could be played on the radio. He defined this record has a « rebellious streak » which « was a bit sobering ».

What do I say about it
This double album may not be radio-friendly but it delivers quality music. It is artistic, experimental and inspiring.

Some of my favourite songs
A Fear Of Falling Under, Casey, Sing To Me, A Conversation With God, Bombs Up In My Face, Neverland, I Just Want YouTo Love Me, Words

Secret Codes & Battleship

Visual identity
This is the most colourful visual identity. Once again, everything is in the details. The cover’s artwork is very graphic. Inside the booklet, the layout is more simple and easy to read: white background and texts in black with some photos here and there.

Nice detail: every song has its own pictogram and its own colour.

Musical style
Secret Codes and Battleships is a pop and electropop record offering 12 songs. Four singles were released: Talk Talk Talk, Black Out The Sun, Bloodstained Heart and Stupid Mistake.

What do I say about it
I think this album shows that Darren has reached a sort of musical maturity. He sounds more confident and creative than ever. Some people said this album could have been a Savage Garden comeback album but all I see is Darren and his great talent.

Some of my favourite songs
Taken By The Sea, Nearly Love, Bloodstained Heart, Stupid Mistake, Cruel Cruel World, The Siren’s Call

Last words about Darren Hayes…

One of the things I like with Darren Hayes is that, besides the quality music he delivers and all the emotions he gives through his voice and lyrics, he brings his music to life through visuals, starting with the album’s booklet. Then, in his music videos, outfits and live performances. His creative process doesn’t stop with the music, the sound and the lyrics: he goes beyond.

Not so many artists do that, not at this level. And I think it is a mistake because it is part of the music. It is also a valuable means of expression and a great way to stand out from the crowd.

On a side note, I think that Darren didn’t get the support he should have had because of Savage Garden success. It looks like people — some pros & a part of the audience — gave up on him because of Savage Garden split, ignoring his great talent and all he could offer and offered.

I guess his label thought he were not as « interesting » alone than with Daniel. If so, that’s a shame. I sincerely believe that he could have been even more successful as a solo artist. It would have required a badass music team to raise his success to another level.

However, he built a sustainable career in Music and lives from it. He has also a level of freedom with his music that many artists probably envy.

I might add that he doesn’t sell as much as Beyoncé & co. but he can be proud of what he did. He created timeless masterpieces. His music is art. He has one of the most beautiful voices in the world, he’s an amazing performer and he’s a real artist, a genius.

Do you know Darren Hayes and his work? What do you think about it? Leave a comment below, I’d love to have your opinion 🙂

8 Responses

  1. DdiCass
    16 mai 2017 at 12:18

    Super article! I love Darren’s voice and personnality. He’s a real great artist and his albums are unique and bring us in his world, let us travel. He deserves the fidelity of his fan’s and more

    • 17 mai 2017 at 3:49

      I totally agree with you! Darren Hayes is a great artist and a real source of inspiration. And thank you for your comment 🙂

  2. Maru Ortiz
    30 mai 2017 at 4:17

    I couldn’t agree more with you, is like you put in words all the thoughts floating in my mind. I loved this article-blog you wrote and I’m so thrill every time I find a massive Darren Hayes fan like me. I invite you to visit my fan pages I’ve created honoring this amazing artist and human being
    I’ll share immediately these words you wrote knowing that many other fans will feel identified.

    • 2 juin 2017 at 3:26

      Thank you, Maru, for your comment. I truly appreciate it 🙂 I’ll definitely have a look at the links you shared. Darren is a brilliant artist indeed. It would be great to have more real artists like him. Music has lost a bit of its magic nowadays and is too commercial. Hope this will change soon!

  3. Shannon broad
    31 mai 2017 at 1:29

    I love darren hayes 🙂 I have been a fan for 21 years and I will never stop loving him. He is a beautiful and talented person 🙂

    • 2 juin 2017 at 3:28

      Hi Shannon! Thank you for your comment 🙂 I totally agree with you, he is talented and beautiful inside and out <3

  4. JoyceTwecy
    29 avril 2020 at 7:12

    What artist or band do you always recommend when someone asks for a music recommendation?

    • 5 mai 2020 at 7:14

      Hey, thank you for your comment. Well, it depends on the person and their music taste. What about you?

Leave A Reply

* All fields are required