Hurts on escaping the underground and making a video for £20
Elegant and enigmatic Manchester electro duo Hurts have come fourth on the BBC's Sound of 2010 list, which features the most promising bands and singers for the next 12 months.
One act from the top five is being unveiled every day this week, counting down to Friday, when the number one will be revealed.
With their sharp suits, slick hair and stark visuals, Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson present a striking contrast to the glow-in-the-dark pop stars who have run amok across the charts of late.
Looking like they would rather be on the cover of Vogue Hommes than NME or Smash Hits, the pair resemble Tears For Fears as shot by Anton Corbijn.
Hurts have not yet played a gig or released a single
Before Hurts, singer Theo and synthesiser Adam were in (scruffier) bands Bureau and Daggers, the latter of which supported Gary Numan.
But on a trip to Italy, they discovered "disco-lento" (slow disco), became fixed on a more austere and stylish European aesthetic and Hurts were born.
Musically, they construct melancholic 1980s-inspired electro-pop with songs that they say are inspired by the British mentality of being "not too bad".
"How are you doing? Not too bad. For a while you think that's not very interesting," Theo says. "But it can be very interesting because it's on a knife-edge of hope and despair."
Did you and Adam really meet outside a club when your mates were having a punch up?
Theo Hutchcraft: Yeah. We're very different. We both lived in Manchester and decided to make music together but for a while did it across the internet.
We were wary of any interaction getting in the way of what we really wanted to do. We had to find a musical common ground first and then we were able to meet because we worked out that we could probably be friends.
Watch the video for Hurts' Wonderful Life
So you did it over the internet because you weren't sure whether you'd like each other?
Yeah, but writing a song gets more interesting with two people. You've got positives and negatives, yin and yang.
When you've got two people who've written a song, you can pick out each personality. If you can marry it right, where they're very different, you get a very interesting outcome.
So why did you decide to make music together?
When we spoke about music, it seemed as though each had something that the other one might need. We're both very much of the classic songwriter school.
What was the first act that you both bonded over?
We went backwards and forwards. One of us would mention something and the other one would go "rubbish". Prince was the first thing we both mentioned. Each of us were shocked that the other one liked it. He's an incredible songwriter and he's very aware of how far you can push the boundaries of production.
What's your first musical memory?
It was my dad teaching me all the lyrics to Rapper's Delight by the Sugarhill Gang when I was very very young. The full version. He sat me down and made me write them out. Because I'm left handed I used to write backwards and he couldn't understand what I'd written.
We've both experienced extreme elation in equal measures with inconsolable despair
Theo Hutchcraft (left)
Your song Wonderful Life seems to be about a bloke who's about to jump off a bridge when a woman comes along and saves him and they fall madly in love. Is that right?
Yeah - that's it. It feels like two extremes - somebody at the end of their life and love at first sight, which has always fascinated me. Somewhere in the middle of despair and that love at first sight, I guess you get that melancholy. It's melodramatic and can spur on people's imagination.
A lot of your songs seem to be about struggling to cope with the world and then getting salvation.
I guess it comes across as quite doomy to a lot of people, but we only tend to write stories about hope. Pop music is part escapism, but it's also part rejoicing in reality. People aren't generally as happy as pop music makes them out to be. They always hope to be that happy - that's why they listen to it.
They're about hope being snatched from the jaws of despair. It's that moment of rapture - it's quite exciting to think about going from black to white instantly. So that's why I keep writing songs about it.
Is that because it has happened to you?
We've been doing this for a while and our world's come crashing down a lot of times, and we've built back up. The music industry plays a big part in it because it's a world built on a lot of false promises and misplaced hope. When you're on the climb up, you give your heart away to a lot of people a lot of the time, and then they kick it into touch.
And personally we've both experienced extreme elation in equal measures with inconsolable despair. That makes you quite stoic and I find it very hard to get excited about very much any more. It's quite tragic. All you do is hope and keep going.
You and Adam were in Daggers - did you try a new approach because you thought this would bring success?
I guess that's one way to put it. But your tastes change all the time. There's not a person in the world who hasn't one day worn a purple sweater and then two months later gone 'I hate that purple sweater'. It's less deliberate - if it was a case of "gimme gimme gimme", we'd probably have shiny neon hair and be dressed in space suits.
But our ambitions are success - there's no denying it. We write pop music. To aim lower than going stratospheric is quite cowardly.
Hurts were speaking to the BBC News music reporter Ian Youngs.
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