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May 18, 2006

Stars of CCTV - Hard-Fi

I appoached this CD thinking it would be just another collection of songs about girls and having no money, and fighting on a Saturday night; to a large extent I was right.

The Streets debuted with a collection of songs much on similar topics, and made a pretty good job of sounding original, and avoiding cliche. Hard-Fi have also managed to come up with some very good material, and along with the poor kid from the streets tracks, have also had a go at the Iraq war in "Middle Eastern Holiday".

The main influences for this music, whether conscious or unconscious, come from the late seventies. There is a lot early Jam in "Gotta Reason", the background singing on "Middle Eastern Holiday" and others is as tuneless (in a good way) as it was with the Undertones, and "Living for the Weekend" echoes Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run". "Better Do Better" is a Two-Tone ska record reminiscent of The Beat in places.

The lead singer belts out most of the tracks with gusto, but isn't afraid to show a more tender side on "Move On Now". The band seem to be capable of using any sound they need, whether thrashing guitars, quirky synths, or clasical piano. It means the CD is never boring, but the lead vocal holds it together so that it forms a coherent whole.

All the songs are good, but some are very good, and there is an absolutely fantastic standout track. "Cash Machine" and "Stars of CCTV" give a real up-to-date cultural aspect to proceedings, and "Feltham is Singing Out" concretes this west London suburb angst with a young offender hanging himself in the prison there.

If you only get to hear one song however, listen to "Tied Up To Tight". This is of course another song about trying to leave the slums for the bright lights. I am finding it very hard indeed to describe just what it is about this song that makes it so great. Every listen makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck - it just works on some base level that I can't figure out. Is it the edginess of the music, the distorted guitars building up a tension that matches the lyrics? Perhaps, and that's the best I can come up with. The lyrics tend towards cliche in places "Your eyes are burning so bright", but any song with the word cognoscenti in it has got to be good.

A new band, if they are any good, only really get one chance at the angst-ridden angry young man album before they get rich and cannot do it any more - Hard-Fi haven't wasted theirs.

Posted by se71 at May 18, 2006 12:03 PM


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