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Hard-Fi – Killer Sounds

Hard-Fi, Killer Sounds

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

HARD-FI are seldom short on confidence as an act… even though they claim to have been stung by the criticisms surrounding 2007’s Once Upon A Time In The West and its marketing.

Having licked their wounds, however, they return with third album Killer Sounds and aim to rock your socks off.

And they’re also pulling out all the stops, having recorded the album between Los Angeles and Staines’ Cherry Lips studios) and enlisted the help of producers Stuart Price (Killers, Madonna), Grey Kurstin (Lily Allen) and Alan Moulder (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Killers).

The ensuing 11 tracks are as vibrant as the PR suggests even if they’re not all as ‘killer’ as the title predicts, or as gob-smackingly good fun as the opening track.

Indeed, the album gets off to an incredibly good start with the funk-rock fusion that is Good For Nothing, a slick, rousing blend of Motown funk and Primal Scream rock that really, really puts you in the best of moods. It could even be one of the best tracks I’ve heard all summer!

Maybe they set the bar too high as few of the remaining 10 songs come close to matching it… which isn’t to say that they’re bad, merely not as high-flying.

Fire In The House relies on more of a dance vibe with a throbbing electronic pulse to lead listeners into its euphoric chorus but it somehow doesn’t work so effectively.

Give It Up, though, does boast a fantastically catchy background whistle and some rousing guitars and electronics to maintain the vibrancy, while a Charlatans-esque slice of harmonica announces the arrival of Stop – although it would have benefited from keeping it around throughout.

Feels Good does, however, make interesting use of sitar and bongo beats over pulsating guitar riffs and banging drums to come close to the ‘feel-good’ vibe it is seeking, and Sweat talks of repossessions and angst amid a resounding synth loop and a set of vocals from Richard Archer that verge on the falsetto over the chorus.

Stay Alive is also a radio-friendly offering that combines ‘80s punk leanings (think Roxy Music and The Clash) with contemporary nous… complete with a rousing chorus that’s easy to get behind.

But Excitement drops a clanger and sounds like more of the work of a band striving to breakthrough with its first single for a lower label than an accomplished track from a well established act.

Fortunately, Bring It On raises the quality once more and comes over all slick and sexy with more “woo hoo” screaming, a meaty riff and a vaguely Duran Duran-esque vibe in its guitars, and title track Killer Sounds offers a welcome acoustic ballad that bemoans the death of youth.

But in between, there’s another mis-step in Love Song, which seems caught between wanting to satisfy the dance and rock crowds without achieving either.

Overall, though, Killer Sounds is a solid if unspectacular third album that delivers one or two moments of genuine brilliance. It should keep Hard-Fi in their listeners’ good graces while, quite possible, expanding their appeal even wider.

Download picks: Good For Nothing, Give It Up, Killer Sounds, Bring It On, Feels Good

Track listing:

  1. Good For Nothing
  2. Fire In The House
  3. Give It Up
  4. Bring It On
  5. Feels Good
  6. Stop
  7. Stay Alive
  8. Excitement
  9. Love Song
  10. Sweat
  11. Killer Sounds