Stars of CCTV

As social phenomena – teenage pregnancy, counterfeit designer clothes, weekend binge-drinking – rip through small towns like a cultural wildfire, it’s only fitting that there’s some comeback to the suburban suffocation.

While the modern day anthem for this has got to be ‘I Predict A Riot’ by the Kaiser Chiefs, Hard-Fi present us with a good few options for second place, using lead singer Richard Archer’s grey hometown of Staines for inspiration. And boy, does it inspire.

A bigger and better version of last year’s mini-album of the same name, Stars of CCTV is one of those rare releases that don’t let the ball drop for one song. There’s the singles, informed by the same collective as the Chiefs – Blur, Supergrass, The Clash, The Specials et al – that do what singles do, and do it well. Lead track ‘Cash Machine’ has the snotty-nosed immaturity that begs for radio airplay, and ‘Tied Up Too Tight’ is a live favourite with its ‘na na na’ chorus (we’re easily pleased, us lot). But its beauty is in the album tracks, each with their own reason to love them. Check out the Bloc Party angularity of ‘Gotta Reason’, or the piano-and-voice broken beauty of ‘Move On Now’. Piano-and-voice being the new acoustic, of course.

Let’s not pretend that they’re doing anything particularly new in soundtracking urban alienation – there have been plenty of bands singing about small town humdrum for years – it’s just that Hard-Fi are able to do it so infectiously, and without resorting to the clichés that lesser bands love.

 

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