Album Review
by SashaS

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Hard-Fi: 'Stars Of CCTV'
Hard-Fi: new contenders, not another retro-trip

Hype is a great PR weapon that can so easily misguide: for instance, if I’ve never heard Hard-Fi’s debut album ‘Stars Of CCTV’ I’d be puzzled. According to a few mainstream newspapers, it is brilliant and a disc that “nails a grin” on your smacker whilst some smaller [media] organs are more cautious and claim that it breaks little new ground.

Well, the truth - as darn usual - is somewhere in between. It is a proud addition to solid new albums, mainly debuts, that have been appearing regularly over the past UK year but it will not shape the future in many ways. ‘Stars Of CCTV’ first appeared as a mini-LP form late last year in a ridiculously limited number.

It is now available in a full-length and cordially displays its influences that are not as common as the rest of their generation. Hard-Fi originate in Ali G’s hood [the ‘home ghetto’ of Staines], and it is reggae, Hip-hop, ska and dance feature highly on their sonic agenda. There is a fair bit of The Clash, a tad of The Specials, a dash of reggae and its close relative dub and a ghost of New Wave.

Alike the bands of the late 1970s/early ‘80s, Hard-Fi deal in reality, the decaying environment of post-industrial Britain, its moral code being rewritten continually: ‘Cash Machine’, that opens the album, rings with a refrain of “Hole in my pocket” and ‘Working for the cash mahcine”; ‘Living For The Weekend’ is a dance anthem [as a distant relative of Madchester], ‘Feltham Is Singing Out’ is pop-tinged lament with string section and sing-a-long that feels like gaining epic proportions live… [Light up and lift your mobiles now!]

They can go tender/mellow [to shame Travis and Keane] and ‘Move on Now‘ is the prime example with ‘Hard To Beat’ and ‘Tied Up Too Tight’ leading into more sounds of the inner city where every weekend we all star on CCTV… Is that what Andy Warhol referred to with his legendary “15 minutes of fame for everybody” quip? Or, he actually predicted Reality TV?

Hard-Fi’s ‘Stars Of CCTV’ certainly displays large potential but they are yet to find the best fitting size.


Tour dates:

14 October - Bierkeller, Bristol
15 October - Old Firestation, Bournemouth
17 October - Roadmenders, Northampton
18 October - Zodiac, Oxford
19 & 20 October - Electric Ballroom, London
21 October - Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
23 October - Moshulu, Aberdeen
24 October - Garage, Glasgow
25 October - Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh
26 October - University, Newcastle
28 October - Irish Centre, Leeds
29 October - University, Liverpool
30 October - University, Manchester
01 November - Waterfront, Norwich
02 November - Junction, Cambridge
03 November - Concorde, Brighton

Hard-Fi’s album ‘Stars Of CCTV’ is released 04 July 2005 by Necessary/Atlantic