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Disjointed third effort from Staines rockers.
Celina Murphy, 25 Aug 2011
If you can endure Richard Archer’s lethargic growling for significant stretches of time, Hard-Fi are quite a decent band. The 1.2 million people who bought their debut album Stars Of CCTV in 2005 certainly seemed to think so, along with the 14 who shelled out for their 2007 follow-up Once Upon A Time In The West (I kid, the largely overrated album actually went straight in at No. 1 in their homeland, so at least 20,000 copies of it exist in stereos and car boot sales around the UK).
For all the slagging they get (guilty as charged), the Staines four-piece have never strayed too far away from their indie disco blueprint – great big choruses, Clash-style melodies, the occasional splodge of electronic foulplay and relatable lyrics about how shit everything is. For anyone who’s still hazy on the matter, the Hard-Fi sound is Kasabian via Example.
It comes as a pleasant surprise that Hard-Fi have deviated from the prototype on new LP Killer Sounds, the first warning of which came when Archer called out the album’s first single as sounding a lot like Jay-Z’s seminal ‘99 Problems’.
In true hip hop style, ‘Good For Nothing’ combines samples of a soul legend with elements of an obscure joint by a ‘70s funk band, in this case Wilson Pickett’s ‘Get Me Back On Time, Engine Number 9’ and All The People’s ‘Cramp Your Style’, and to Hard-Fi’s credit, the track boasts a serious groove. ‘Stop’, meanwhile, is delightfully poppy, and the risky jazzy hook on ‘Give It Up’ pays off big time.
Elsewhere though, all that seemingly arbitrary genre-hopping makes for confusing listening. ‘Sweat’ would be better placed on a Nicole Scherzinger album, while ‘Fire In The House’ has an undue Calvin Harris-esque bounce. Suddenly, the only thing about Killer Sounds that makes sense are the flustered lyrics, namely “I’m a bag of contradictions, but I just can’t stop”.
No filler, but hardly all killer, either.