Album Review: Hooverphonic – “Hidden Stories”

Belgian band Hooverphonic represented the country at Eurovision 2021. They performed the song “The Wrong Place“, placed 19th in the grand final.

On the 6th of May 2021, they released a brand new album – “Hidden Stories” that included 10 songs:

  1. A Simple Glitch Of The Heart
  2. Thinking About You
  3. The Wrong Place
  4. Belgium In The Rain
  5. Lift Me Up
  6. If You’d Really Know Me
  7. One Big Lie
  8. Circus
  9. Full Moon Duel
  10. Hidden Stories

The band celebrates its 25th anniversary. Currently, the band members are:

Geike Arnaert – lead vocals (1997–2008; 2020–present)
Alex Callier – bass guitar, keyboards, programming (1995–present)
Raymond Geerts – lead guitar (1995–present)

In this article, I will review the album “Hidden Stories”. The name of the album carries one of the tracks’ names. However, we can suggest here another meaning: The album included 10 different stories. each one of them is a hidden story in its own way.

The full album can be found on YouTube:

#1. A Simple Glitch Of The Heart

The song starts with a combination of dramatic violin and piano playing. The atmosphere is of a dark night. The common bass guitar appears and adds another dimension of mystery. The production is smooth but not monotonous. In the chorus we can hear a unique background sound, sometimes it can be compared to an animal’s howling in nature. There is a wonderful harmony between Geike‘s voice and the bass guitar.
The song talks about the way we carry memories from the past. Sometimes, we want to erase them. We might feel like our world is crumbling down. However, it is just an obstacle we can overcome.
It is a wonderful opening song!

#2. Thinking About You

I would call it one of the uplifting and optimistic songs in the album. The atmosphere is of a happy summer day. A spokesperson for the song was exposed: She told her story directly. She is still thinking about someone. They shared pleasant memories together.
The song starts with an acoustic production of simple guitar stringing. Geike‘s voice is clear and calming. In the pre-chorus and chorus, we can hear backing vocals. The chorus is faster and sounds like a successful part of a love song from a romantic comedy movie. On the bridge, the melody changes, the emphasis is on the singer’s voice. Afterward, we can hear the instrumental part of the song. The song ends with another occurrence of the chorus.

#3. The Wrong Place (Belgium’s song, Eurovision 2021)

 It’s a dark soft rock-pop ballad. The song starts with a strong instrumental part that is composed of guitar and piano. The guitar stringing element creates an interesting beat that is being used as the basis for the first verse melody. Geike’s voice is dark and curious. She expresses the words in a unique way and sings them with a low voice. You can already tell that the production of the song is wise and sophisticated, as the cyclic beat sticks to your mind. In the pre-chorus, the guitar gets a significant role in the melody. The peak point of the song arrives as the pre-chorus ends. The tension is high and we definitely can’t imagine what would happen. The pre-chorus ends with masculine backing vocals which combine in an excellent way in the arrangement. Sometimes it seems like those voices were created to warn her of the upcoming future. In the chorus, her singing becomes a little bit softer. Each end of the line is being signed by strong guitar accords. The last line of the chorus is kind of a statement and therefore it includes a kind of “‘anger”. The second verse is more powerful, the guitar sound is more present. The second chorus continues directly from the point the verse stops. After the chorus, we have an additional section where the singer sings “You are in the wrong place” and accompanied by male backing vocalists. The song ends with the dramatic sentence “Don’t you ever dare to wear my Johnny Cash t-shirt“.
I think the song is pure art, wrapped in a radio-friendly frame. Geike’s voice shines in that kind of song. There is something mysterious and dark in the song and the production really fits that idea.
It isn’t a coincidence that the video clip is cinematic. The song has the characteristics of classical James Bond / Tarantino movies

#4. Belgium In The Rain

The song starts with a beautiful instrumental part. The introduction is based on digital production. gentle guitar playing and percussion instruments. The rate of verses is slightly faster than the other songs in the album. It’s a romantic melancholic song, with modern production.
The chorus includes a specific instrumental part that repeats alongside singing.
On the bridge. the melody changes, Geike’s singing faster as the tension fills the room.
Lyrics rely on the scientific world: We’re tiny atoms in a chaotic universe
You’re in luck, drawn in my cloud/ Neutrons make sure we don’t part/ You’re always on the move/ Never seem to lose that groove/ Alone and we’re on a jet“.
The song describes a non-ordinary relationship. The spokesperson and her lover are far from each other, but still, feel close to each other. There’s something dangerous in the interaction.
Every time they say goodbye, a gray melancholic atmosphere takes over. She is trying to find strength in nature’s force: “Protons, neutrons, all those electrons/ They make the world go ’round/ Protons, neutrons, all those electrons/ Make sure we’ll never part

#5. Lift Me Up

The title of the song matched perfectly to the message and the vibe: This one will definitely lift you up. I would classify it as midtempo jazz with light influences of pop music. This one probably hasn’t the familiar sound of Hooverphonic songs. Nevertheless, that is the reason why the song sounds so unique.
The song starts with bass playing alongside percussions. In the beginning, there was an echo singing that was combined well in the production. The chorus is soft, singing can be heard but the emphasis is on the string instruments. There is something sassy but still sophisticated and high quality.
These are the kind of songs I would like to listen to in bars while sitting near friends.

#6. If You’d Really Know Me

This is one of the most personal songs on the album. The title already invites us to open the book and read the plot. The spokesperson told us about a relationship that was over by the other side. She has been through a tough time. When she needed support, her lover was gone. She deals with being alone, but sometimes she can’t forget about him.
The melody is based on piano playing, accompanied by guitar and drums. Geike sings the song with fragility but also with a heavy serious vibe (which is the right choice for that song).
The chorus is being performed with a slightly higher voice. The emphasis on the chorus is on the acoustic instruments, as the drums play a more significant role in the verses.
I really appreciate Hovverphonic for including that kind of song in the album, it is different, soft, and shows the beauty of Geike’s voice. It proves as well that listening to love songs can bring different spirits as well.

#7. One Big Lie

This song comes to teach us a lesson that the majority of us have already learned a hard way: perfect love doesn’t exist. In the beginning, she told us about a perfect man she met: he was smart, good-looking, etc. The title has a strong message but it isn’t mentioned in the lyrics.
The song starts with an orchestra playing that creates the required drama. The melody itself relies on piano playing as well and includes some guitar and drums playing. The chorus is catchy and ends with bass guitar stringing. The second verse is a little bit more rhythmic. The second chorus sounds even better with the orchestra playing a main role in the melody. Geike shows some impressive notes. For some reason, listening to the song made me miss the music of the 1990s.
No doubt, this song has the typical sound of Hooverphonic but it is still a fresh new wind.

#8. Circus

This is the second song in a row that gives the orchestra a place of honor. This is the darkest song on the album. For it stands out, even though it is a difficult mission among all those pearls.
The song starts with an orchestra and string instruments. The first verse has a slow rate.
Geike sings alongside a melody that sounds like it was taken from a fairytale.
The last line of the chorus is being performed with a husky and mysterious voice by Geike who whispers in a unique way. After the chorus, we can hear birds singing.
The bridge is being performed in a higher voice, the melody changes into a softer direction.
The song ends with Geike whispering.
The melody can give the impression it is quite simple, but the opposite is true! The artistic team behind it took a lot of steps forward – the production, the singing, the including of birds singing – all combined together into the whole package.
About the lyrics, I think that everyone might understand them in a different way.
The freaks and the clowns, …, Such a colorful crowd” – It is a special circus, the crows here might be the most interesting part of the show, not the circus itself. The circus is a metaphor for the real world where each one of us will have to walk along the wire. However, there is another message here – liars should get what they deserve: Danger, fire/ Run now you liar/ Wilder and wilder/ Sleep now, it’s over” – It might be a hint for us that we should be real with ourselves.

#9. Full Moon Duel

I would classify the song as the closest one to rock music in that album.
It starts with the massive bass playing together with harmonica’s playing.
The first verse melody is namely based on guitar playing. Geike sings it with some improvisations.
The transition between the verse and the chorus is quite smooth.
On the bridge, the melody changes: It becomes more classic and Geilke sings in a higher voice.
In the chorus, we can hear the bass and the drums.
Recently, it was revealed that the song was one of the 2 contenders to be the Belgian’s entry for Eurovision 2021. However, the band’s members found it a little bit riskier and therefore chose “The Wrong Place“.
The song talks about relationships. The spokesperson is trying to run away from a love that can hurt her at the end of the day. Over the years, she has achieved proficiency in running from tempting love. However, she might fall sometimes. As the night comes, she wonders who will be the first to put the other one down. She is afraid of getting hurt and therefore asks to be the one who hurts the other.

#10. Hidden Stories

If you ask me. it isn’t a coincidence that this song is the last in the running. It wraps all the other songs and shows that they all have something in common.
The song starts with a classic and pleasant piano playing. I love the fact that Geike’s singing keeps on changing as the verse continues. Between the two verses, we can enjoy the classical instrumental part that elevated the value of the song. The second verse starts in a similar way to the first one.
However, at this time the cello can be heard even better. The chorus is short but completes the verses perfectly. Geike sings the chorus full of emotions and with a higher voice.
There’s a soft modulation towards the end. The last-minute part of the song is instrumental.
For those of us who adore classical music, it will be one of the most enjoyable minutes in that album.

To sum it up, it is a wonderful album. Hooverphonic brought here plenty of good songs.
It isn’t only about compositions and melodies, but also meaningful lyrics alongside professional productions. Geike proves as always that she is a great singer.
One last compliment will be given to the team behind the songs (Alex Callier, Chanty, Charlotte Foret) who created 10 wonderful songs!

Doron Lahav is 30-year-old, who lives in Israel. Doron has been watching the Eurovision Song Contest since early 2000s. Doron works as a Data Scientist and shows interest in singing and writing.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.