Album: Hard-Fi

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The Independent Culture

It's the new sound of young Staines! Not, perhaps, the most flattering of locales from which to emerge, but since the release last year of their debut mini-album, Hard-Fi have progressed apace, winning plaudits from the likes of Rick Rubin, and appearing on Jools Holland's show. This expanded version of that debut presents Hard-Fi's singer and songwriter, Richard Archer, as an observer of suburban teen angst, operating in a similar vein to The Others and The Ordinary Boys as regards both the targets of his complaints and the band's basic 2-Tone/punk style. His attention focuses on everyday matters such as living life in the red ("Cash Machine"), soldiers getting shot in Iraq ("Middle Eastern Holiday"), nightclub pick-ups ("Hard to Beat"), and getting to snub the old flame who dumped him but has since changed her mind ("Better Do Better"). More parochial concerns feature in "Feltham Is Singing Out", a dig at the local young offenders' institute, and "Move on Now", a disillusioned dead-town song. Elsewhere, the band mine a fairly restricted vein ranging from brusque glam-pop to brittle ska-punk, efficiently delivered but lacking the panache and wit that enables the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs to stand out from the crowd.