Hard-Fi - Stars Of CCTV
Hard-FI have had a lot of good press recently and, it has to be said, it's not all undeserved; they manage to emulate the sounds of The Clash and The Specials (with a sort of mid-90's spin) and at least make the effort to steal some of their soul as well as their licks and tricks. It's a very British album, listen to the likes of 'Feltham Is Singing Out' with its easy laid back ska is to listen to band singing about what they know about rather than what they have read about.
You've probably heard 'Tied Up Too Tight' and 'Cash Machine' by now but tracks like 'Unnecessary Trouble', a definite highlight here and far better than the singles releasesed so far, have an easy funk-lite groove to them that lifts Hard-Fi way above the sort of turgid, stinking pub rock offered by the likes of, say, Dogs. There's thought gone into the songs, that much is obvious and at the very least the influences are sound and worn on the sleeve with no shame. Again, 'Living For The Weekend' steals a couple of disco beats and the album is all the better for this magpie like approach. Title track, 'Stars of CCTV' closes the album on a downbeat note and leaves a very pleasant aftertaste.
This is a solid debut and probably won't set the world on fire, but with any luck, the second album just might. They're literate and musically diverse and that should be enough. If Hard-Fi manage to negotiate the perils of being seen as a singles band, they might do very well indeed.
And at least this album doesn't have their woeful version of White Stripes' 'Seven Nation Army', so buy with confidence.